Waste Management

 Content provided by:
Laura Galvin, Senior Manager, Operations, Irvine Company Office Properties

Jonathan Leder, Building Manager, Oracle

A Waste Management Strategy should promote reduction of resources, pollution prevention and landfill elimination. While building owners and managers can encourage tenants to reduce and reuse, the biggest effect you can have in this area is recycling. By making recycling programs available to your tenants and making them easy to participate in, the management team of a property can have a significant impact in the waste output at the property.  Offer options for your tenants for recycling or repurposing common waste items generated by their type of business. 

Why Recycle?

Recycling plays a major role in the reduction of waste and the reuse of resources, but did you know there is a financial upside to you and your bottom line? Most counties and municipalities charge a landfill fee calculated by the yard. A great way to mitigate this cost is to work with tenants and your janitorial team to divert landfill to other streams like recycling and composting. Recycling is often free for the hauling and disposal, and compost can either be free, or removed at a reduced price. Your local waste hauler can work with you to get proper signage and instructions to help.

There are lots of ways to recycle:

  • General recycling. (paper, cardboard, glass, plastic and aluminum)
  • Compost. Must waste haulers, particularly in the bay area will offer commercial composting. Commercially compostable material includes any waste that can naturally decompose in a year, or decompose in high heat and humidity in 180 days. While this includes the basics like food waste, this can also include compostable containers, utensils and landscape. For additional resources, check out BPI World site for details about composting and compostable products.
  • E-waste recycling.  Many e-waste recycling vendors will host a pick up event at no cost to the tenant or the property.  Be sure when selecting an e-waste recycling vendor to look for a certified "E-Steward".   The E-Steward program requires vendors to recycle responsibly, and ensures that collected materials are not disposed of in landfills or in any hazardous manner.  For more information on the E-Steward program and to find a local qualified vendor see:  http://e-stewards.org/certification-overview/
  • Plastic bag recycling:  Many cities no longer allow plastic grocery bags to be disposed of in the mixed recycling as they can cause damage to recycling machines.  Research with your recycling collection vendor and see if this is the case in your area.  If so, consider placing a bag recycling collection point in the building that the management team brings for recycling on a regular basis. 
  • Ink cartridge recycling:  Many ink manufacturers now offer free, prepaid return packages for ink cartridge recycling.  Encourage tenants to make use of these services on their own, or offer a drop box where the management office can help facilitate the recycling of used cartridges
  • Batteries:  Even new batteries do contain trace amounts of mercury and other potentially toxic materials. Some municipalities will accept these batteries (as well as older, more toxic ones) in waste facilities but of course it is preferable to recycle them.  Options for battery recycling are plentiful.  Check with your e-waste collection vendor as many will accept batteries.  Other solutions include the mail-order service, Battery Solutions which will recycle your spent batteries at a cost of 85 cents per pound. To find a company near you where you can drop off your old batteries for recycling, check out the comprehensive national database at the Earth911.org website.
  • Building materials:  While it seems to go without saying, be sure that the recycling programs in the building extend to the management and maintenance teams also!  Ensure that your office is participating in any reduce, reuse or recycle opportunities that are available, and require all maintenance staff and vendors to do the same with building materials.  Used lights and batteries are two commonly generated building materials that should always be recycled.