As a retailor commercial property owner or manager, you may have considered implementing green practices onsite at your property, but weren’t sure how or where to start. Or perhaps you’ve been held back by the number of variables involved in the process. You may have asked yourself questions like: What type of receptacles or other equipment will we need? Will my tenants and their employees participate in a recycling program? Will it cost money or save money? Are there additional ways to handle recycling than those I’m presently considering?

One helpful “how-to” resource for commercial operators is the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) guide, America’s Marketplace Recycles, which discusses how to reduce, reuse and recycle wastes. The guide outlines the steps toward implementing a successful recycling program and contains examples of successful strategies and practices implemented by shopping centers and retailers across the country.

A reliable waste management consultant is another knowledgeable resource.

“A waste management consultant can help you implement a much more successful recycling program,” says Michael Mintz, CEO of Waste Cost Solutions. “A representative from a waste management company can help you assess your recycling potential as well as establish and maintain a successful recycling program. This is something a waste hauler may not do — since most haulers are publicly held and report to shareholder, they are seeking only to make a profit. A consultant will help you keep an eye on your own profit.”

Mintz adds that, as the world in general shifts toward green initiatives, retail and commercial centers are looking for ways to join the movement. A qualified consultant can help identify and set up the best recycling plan for each individual customer.

“There can be some barriers to setting up a recycling program for a retail operation, such as the landlord not providing the appropriate receptacles and pick-up services or employees not knowing how to appropriately sort recyclable materials. And some retailers and property managers still think a recycling program will actually cost them money. This couldn’t be further from the truth,” he explains. “So, there has to be a program in place to teach people how to make their businesses green. Waste management consultants are in the business of helping educate their retail clients about recycling best practices.”

A waste management consultant can help you:

• Assess your property’s recycling potential. A professional waste audit will determine how much waste your business generates overall and what is or is not recyclable. You may learn that you can actually save money by recycling materials properly instead of putting everything into regular trash collection containers or that you can choose to buy from vendors who don’t use unnecessary packaging for their products.

• Educate and encourage tenants and employees about your recycling program. A waste management consultant can assist with teaching the difference between recyclable and non-recyclable materials, identifying the appropriate receptacles and posting clear instructions for sorting wastes and collection procedures, including specific guidelines for janitorial workers and groundskeepers.

• Promote the program and its value within your operation and to the community. When your tenants and their employees understand the impact their recycling efforts can make on the environment, both locally and globally, they have a sense of pride in their contributions and buy into the program. Additionally, promoting the fact that your retail operation recycles shows customers and neighbors that you are environmentally responsible and cost-conscious.