We all know that Salt Lake City is the place to be. There are so many great reasons to open up a business or expand an existing one here in Salt Lake City (case in point: all of our previous blogs posts!)

Here’s yet another reason to be proud of SLC: the City’s commitment to sustainability. We’ve launched an occasional blog series, in partnership with SLCgreen, to delve into why sustainability matters for your business, why it’s a recruitment tool, and how it helps your bottom line.

Next up: How recycling can help your business

Recycling is one of the most basic forms of environmental stewardship—for our City, for residents, and for businesses. Why produce new goods out of raw materials when we can reuse and recycle old stuff?

Recycling is also a lucrative and important sector of our local economy. It’s expanding quickly, adding new jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities as our City—and waste stream—also grows.

Salt Lake City is committed to protecting our environment and conserving resources.  It’s why we have a goal of ultimately achieving zero-waste by 2040. This means that all waste is diverted or recycled.

When it comes to residents diverting waste, we’re doing great—50% of total residential waste is being recycled.

This is not the case for businesses or multi-family properties, however. For a sector that contributes to half of the City’s total waste stream, only 10% of that is making it into the hands of recyclers—this represents a big opportunity for improvement in our City and a relatively simple one for businesses to undertake.

SLC Plastic bottles

This gap in residential versus business recycling rates prompted the City to confront this issue head on. In 2015, the City Council passed an amendment to the city’s recycling ordinance to include businesses & multi-family properties of a certain size. After a two-year phase-in period, by January 4, 2018, the ordinance goes into effect.

The ordinance establishes that half of a business’s total waste stream be recycled, and that all waste haulers operating in Salt Lake City must offer recycling services to their clients.

If you’re a small business, you may not produce enough waste to require compliance (four or more cubic yards per week is the threshold).

But implementing a recycling program makes good environmental and economic sense regardless of your size.

The City’s Waste & Recycling Division (which is part of the Sustainability Department) is prepared to support your efforts with their wealth of experience and resources.


How to Start a Recycling Program

Start by contacting your hauler. They are aware of the business recycling ordinance, and ready to help your business reach its 50% diversion mark.

Then, create a recycling plan. Salt Lake City’s Waste & Recycling Division has created a recycling program guide that takes you step-by-step through ideas and considerations about your waste stream.

Success often comes down to just a few details:

  1. Knowing what goes into your waste stream,
  2. Assigning one person (or a small “green team,” depending on your business size) to oversee your recycling efforts, and
  3. Simply placing recycling bins next to the trash cans in your business.

In other words, make recycling easy for your employees or tenants.

SLC Shredded paper

Recycling Conundrums?

It may be that your business already has a recycling effort in place but is experiencing challenges. Not to worry!

When the Sustainability Department is invited to perform its free sustainability consulting service for businesses, the same recycling challenges often occur.

Any of these sound familiar?

  • Customers throw away recyclable items in the garbage, or garbage in the recyling
  • Employees don’t bother to recycle because they believe the custodians are emptying it all into the trash anyway
  • Your waste hauler says they can’t or won’t offer recycling services
  • The landlord won’t provide recycling because there’s no room for a recycling dumpster

Try these solutions on for size:

  • Here are two downloadable signs you can attach to your trash and recycling receptacles that show what’s recyclable and what’s trash, to avoid contamination by customers or employees.
  • Use this letter template to clearly explain your business’ recycling practices to employees to encourage participation
  • All waste haulers operating in SLC are required to provide recycling services to you—here is a list of authorized waste haulers that comply with the ordinance
  • The SLC Waste & Recycling Division has an Education and Enforcement team that will come to your property to evaluate its suitability for the location of a recycling dumpster, or to identify alternative solutions for recycling pickup. Contact them at 801-535-6984.

Biz Recycling Toolkit Image

These and many other recycling solutions for your business are available to you on the City’s recycling page, or from the expertise of our Waste & Recycling Division staff.

Have a look at our business case studies in the Recycling Toolkit for examples of successful business recycling programs or attend an upcoming workshop. Feel free to reach out to slcgreen@slcgov.com if you have additional questions about recycling or any sustainability topics. We’re here to help!

Happy recycling! And thank you for helping our City stay healthy and environmentally-resilient as we grow.