Waste Reduction Powers Financial Gain
  by : J. Michael Huls
Maybe you haven't thought about this much, but what will happen when nearby landfills fill up? Guess what, we better start thinking about this because dumps are indeed filling up and new ones are not easy to build. For example, in Naples, Italy, you may have read that the City simply stopped collecting trash when local dumps reached their capacity. As a result, local residents rioted amid rising levels of open dumping. Seem unlikely here? Actually, in our area, landfills are filling up more rapidly than we imagined a generation ago, reflecting increased levels of trash generation.

But disposal isn't just about filling up land. It is about how wasting triggers energy shortages, worsens global climatic change, causes loss of natural resources, and increases pollution. Did you know for instance that when we discard a single sheet of paper, that we're actually discarding 70 times its weight in wastes from production of fuel, water, and fiber used in that product? Yes, on average our municipal waste represents only the tip of the iceberg so to speak. Manufacturing a computer, as another example, results in over a ton of industrial waste, wastewater, and mining waste. So it makes good sense to conserve and reduce wasting. What can we do, and what's in it for us?

Currently, 16 communities, including the City and County of San Bernardino, work cooperatively toward zero waste, and many businesses also practice zero wasting and are making money at it. You read that right, zero waste isn't just about doing the right thing - it's about sustainability as well. Want to know more? Of course you do!

That's why the County of San Bernardino has arranged a series of free workshops on zero waste with area chambers of commerce for you to attend and learn about what peer businesses are doing right now to change their wasteful ways and start being green! Incidentally, these firms are finding out that being green isn't such a difficult challenge and is actually quite profitable! Here are some examples:
  • A local supermarket chain has saved several millions in refuse collection costs by composting its organic waste, and has developed its own line of bagged soil amendment that sells out consistently!
  • A local distributor installed a baler for its cardboard and plastic shrink-wrap that avoided thousands of dollars in collection costs and generates over $50,000 per year in recycling revenue!
  • Local businesses have donated hundreds of pounds of unserved food to local food banks, savings hundreds of dollars in collection costs!

Your own success story can be listed here next time this article runs! So plan to attend an upcoming Green Business workshop and learn what you can do to implement green practices at your place of business. Workshops will be scheduled in the following cities this spring:
  • Fontana
  • Barstow
  • Lake Arrowhead
  • San Bernardino

Look for dates and locations in upcoming newsletter issues. Also look for e-mail announcements and flyers. A webcast is also in the works for those that can't attend a workshop.