The Retrofit Companies Blog

Corporations Step Up to Support Community Ewaste Recycling Collections

Community Recycling Collection Event in Warroad.png

 

In northern Minnesota, a stone’s throw from the Canadian border, is the town of Warroad. This unassuming small town is home to Marvin Windows and Doors, the world’s largest manufacturer of made-to-order wood window and door products. While the town has a population just under two thousand people, the business employs more than 5,200 people at their ten nationwide locations. The company has been recognized widely for its ethical and responsible practices and was named The Most Ethical Large Company in America in 2014. At the core of their values you find environmental stewardship activities ranging from conservation, sustainability programs, and recycling efforts.

Given its rural location and the fact that it is a community anchor, there is something distinctive about the location of the headquarters and their sense of community in the workplace. As I learned about the company, this fact shone through and continued to when I interviewed Wayne Pearson. Wayne is a Waste Management Supervisor, and we met to talk about a program that was founded at Marvin Windows and Doors to help alleviate a recycling issue he noticed as a result of the town’s somewhat remote location and lack of recycling outlets. The company has a strong commitment to environmental stewardship and Pearson was in a unique position to address this lack-of-recycling problem in a way that perhaps others may not have been able to do. He understood the importance of recycling, and naturally he felt the same importance applied to individuals, as well. He explains, “Up here, we’re so far away from any recycling markets, and the employees needed these services. We did not have the avenues to recycle electronics and glass like more populated areas.” He suggested the company hold a recycling event specifically for employees, sponsored by Marvin Windows and Doors. “The company is proactive. It’s very evident with programs like this. They supported the idea and the financial aspects of it, too. They are the ones that get this. Their support to the employees is tremendous.”

The first ewaste recycling collection event was held in 2012 with great success. Just over 23,000 pounds of electronics were recycled; all of these items brought to the collection by employees at the headquarters location! In 2013 the event peaked at 25,477 pounds of electronics, plus another 10,552 pounds of appliances. By 2014, Pearson was seeing the amount of waste drop: roughly 18,000 pounds of electronics and 4,000 pounds of appliances were recycled at that event. In 2015, another drop to 15,573 pounds of electronics, but with the most recent event in October 2016, something surprising happened – the collection event generated just over 19,000 pounds of electronics. “I’m not sure what to say on the 2016 results, I’m a little bit disappointed. I’d rather have it continue to decline! Word is getting out there more, and I know there are a certain amount of new people taking advantage of the program,” Pearson said.

Wayne and I talked a bit about the growth and future of the program, and the support offered by Marvin Windows and Doors. “The first two years, when we started the electronics recycling program, there was no charge to anyone to do this because the commodity markets for recycling were great. We had an appliance recycling event, too. The markets were so good that there was no cost to the company. Now the last three years, the markets have declined and we have lost some of our recycling avenues,” he says, referring to another program in the county that recycled glass, but ended up leaving the market and leaving residents with no glass recycling option. Parenthetically, Marvin Windows and Doors now offers a glass recycling program to its employees since the county doesn’t offer that type of recycling program anymore.

“The local transfer station will take [electronic] items, but they charge $5 a piece for them. We’re offering these services to the employees now. During the collection event we say, ‘Yes! Bring your items to recycle, there’s no charge!’ We also have internal support for these activities and it’s a pretty amazing thing for the company to do. Marvin Windows and Doors is progressive, and I want to support that by doing the best thing I can do for the company.”

The two-day event is held once a year, and employees are invited to bring their electronic waste in to be collected by Pearson and his team. I asked him about the effort it takes to organize an event like this, and Wayne said, “It’s outside of the facilities’ normal activities, so we take two days for the collection. There is a lot of work and preparation for it, and then during the collection we’re actually kept pretty busy. We don’t staff it full time, but we try to make it so that someone is there if people bring heavier items.” At the end of the event, waste is shipped to The Retrofit Companies’ location in Little Canada, MN to be sorted and delivered for recycling.

Over the span of just ten days, over the course of 5 years, in a town with less than 1,800 residents, one company was able to collect more than 115,000 pounds of waste electronics and appliances as a service to its employees. This waste was diverted from improper disposal or landfilling, and was responsibly recycled. The community collection model has been a staggering success for the worker community at Marvin Windows and Doors.

So, what do employees who take advantage of the recycling collection think of it and would Pearson recommend this for other organizations? In short, resounding positivity. He says, “Yes, it’s a morale booster and a service. It’s well worth the effort to get this type of program going. I’ve been working with Jake [TRC Environmental Sales Director] for two years on this, and it is awesome working together. Planning this out, the support of our company, the many individuals coming together to communicate these efforts. It’s a huge opportunity for Marvin Windows and Doors employees to clean out basements, garages, and storage areas for no charge. The employees are grateful and appreciative that this is a possibility. This is something a company can do that is beneficial to employees. It is a big effort, but well worth it.” •

 

Looking for additional information to plan community recycling collection programs? Read this:

How to plan your community recycling day

INTERVIEW: Planning your community recycing event with TRC

UPDATED MARCH 2017

Community-Recycling-Event-Maplewood-MN.jpg

Today, we are interviewing Chris from City of Maplewood. He has worked with TRC to organize community recycling collection events for the past several collection seasons. The last event was successful for them, so we asked if he was willing to talk a bit about their experience. We're happy to say that he was and said we could share the conversation here. Hopefully, this insight will help other communities with how they can start a community recycling collection. Keep reading to learn about how their successful event came together!

Tell us about selecting the date/time for the event.
There really is no rhyme or reason for our date. That was a day that the Aldrich Arena was available and it also worked for the majority of the vendors that we talked with.


How did you select the site for the event to be held? What logistics and accessibility concerns did you have to take into consideration?
The Aldrich Arena is a great site to run a cleanup event. It has a lot of available space for the vendor staging and has the ability to handle long vehicle lines safely if it gets busy.


Did City of Maplewood absorb any recycling costs on behalf of the residents?
The city normally covers around 50-60% of the costs for disposal.


Why did you select to work with TRC? 
We have worked with TRC for the past few events and their staff has been very helpful and professional in during the events. The city also went out for pricing and TRC has the most competitive pricing.

cars-and-recycling-drop-off.jpg

ALL PHOTOS PROVIDED BY CITY OF MAPLEWOOD: Cars line up at the site, and drive through to drop off their appliances, computers, and other recyclable wastes. Generally, residents stay inside their vehicles while workers unload. (left) TRC workers and event volunteers unload vehicles, and sort items to be loaded onto recycling trucks. (right) 

Was TRC staff experienced & knowledgeable? Were we able to provide a meaningful partnership and make your event successful?
The staff was great to work with. The only issue was that our event was so well attended that the trucks filled up and the driver had to swing back and make a few trips to get everything from the site to their warehouse after the event. Even with the craziness of the event their staff was still able to handle the extreme workload placed on them!

Was there any community volunteer involvement to help offset labor costs at the event and promote community involvement, or did you have any volunteers at the event to help unload and manage traffic?
The city partnered with Ramsey County Sentence to Serve for volunteers and has staff from both Tennis sanitation (the events vendor) and some folks from the City’s Public works crews. 


At the time of the event (or after) did you receive any resident feedback on the event? 
People loved the event! The lines stayed moving and the weather was wonderful. The last few years it has rained or snowed during the event so people just seemed generally happy to enjoy the nice day.


How does the city promote these events to its residents?
We use newsletters, Twitter, Facebook, and our website.

appliance-recycling-and-collection.jpgAppliances are loaded onto trucks to be shipped and recycled at a TRC end-facility. (left) Palletized CPU's and televisions in a cubic yard box are prepared for shipping while on site before loading into trucks. (right)


What advice would you give to other communities that wish to plan their first, or improve their existing recycling collection events?
Plan, promote, repeat! Also, talk with the vendors to make sure that everything will be in place and that everyone understands what is expected at the event from staff and vendors.

Outside of these events, how does your city help promote responsible waste disposal? How can people get rid of these items if they don’t come to a collection event?
We receive many calls from residents and we always work to direct them to responsible methods of disposal. The Ramsey County A to Z disposal guide is a very helpful, too, for residents.

How can people get in touch with City of Maplewood or find more information about your community events?
Our website at www.maplewoodmn.gov has all the information, people can also follow us on twitter @MaplewoodMN.


Thanks again to City of Maplewood for choosing TRC as a partner & to Chris for the interview. If your community is thinking about planning an event, start by reading "How to Plan Your Own Community Recycling Day" right here on the blog.

How to plan your community recycling day

 

 

How to Plan Your Own Community Recycling Day (REPOST)

This article was first published in April 2013, but at the height of our collection season we wanted to share it again. 

 

Community recycling collection programs help keep Universal Waste out of landfills, and give residents, businesses and other community members a place to safely and responsibly recycle waste that is otherwise difficult to dispose of through regular trash handling firms. These events are referred to as Spring Clean Ups or Household Hazardous Waste Collection days and are generally held in the spring or fall as large events with many waste vendors; however, some communities establish year-round collection sites, too.

Community Recycling Programs are specifically designed to cater to the community’s waste needs and disposal requirements. Waste streams commonly collected at events can include: Universal & Hazardous Wastes like Fluorescent Lamps, Batteries, Ballasts, Electronics, and Mercury Items. Other common wastes that could be collected are Paints, Chemicals, Solvents, Tires, and Commercial & Household Appliances; even old furniture, mattresses and other items that are difficult to dispose or recycle.

recycling collection eventWe encourage the following considerations for communities in the planning stages for recycling days:

What is the best location for your event?

  • Consider ease of access for cars, large trucks and vehicles with trailers.
  • Also consider where the vendors will set up semi-trailers, cubic yard boxes, dumpsters and collection containers.
  • Traffic should be able to easily flow in and out of the area safely.
  • Events generally require large open areas, easy to access, but away from busy streets with a lot of traffic.

Who will staff the event & how many people are needed?

  • Will employees of the vendors be responsible for all of the labor? 
  • Will employees of the City, County or Business heading up the event be responsible for providing helpers on site?
  • Are community groups able to volunteer?
  • Be sure that helpers are available for the duration of the event. Keep in mind that shorter hours open might mean heavy traffic flow, and longer hours may subject the helpers to more standing around time.

What time(s) will be best for your event?

  • Many communities cater to residents by holding events on weekend days. Saturday mornings are very common.
  • Other “events” are set up as permanent collection sites.

What items will be accepted?

  • Wastes accepted will be determined by the vendors available at the event. 
  • Vendors will accept only the special wastes they are licensed to haul and recycle. 
  • Keep in mind safety and local rules and regulations. 
  • Example; if you are going to accept hazardous waste such as flammable wastes or chemicals you will need to be sure to have properly trained staff available to work.

Who funds/organizes community collections?

Events can be organized by any City, State, County, Business or Community group. The methods for funding such events can range from fees for each item charged to the person disposing of them and money is collected on site, to a portion or all of the event’s fees being covered by the organizer. Below are some more specifics.

Cities (Most cities have drop off sites for residential waste, some also organize clean-up day/days)

States (Sometimes there are grants set up for cities/counties to help fund events/drop off sites)

Counties (You can usually check with your county for information on drop off sites for different waste streams, some also help fund community recycling events and recycling centers)

Businesses (Some businesses, usually larger corporations, organize recycling events for their employees, in most cases funded by the business)

Tax payers (Some cities/counties charge a fee for recycling that helps fund recycling centers/initiatives. This is a tax fee taken out. Some collection events also charge a fee for certain items being dropped off, while other items are free.)

describe the image

How to start a community collection:

1. Determine a location for the event. Ensure there is plenty of room to set up cubic yard boxes/pallets, trucks, and that traffic will easily move in and out of the collection area.

2. Figure out what hours and which day to have the event and the amount of helpers/volunteers/employees will be required.

3. Contact a local and reputable recycling company. Use resources such as a county website which also usually lists collection dates already in place, or provide a list of disposal resources for all types of waste. If you cannot find these online, call your county and ask for the department that handles environmental services, household hazardous waste, or Universal and special waste recycling. They should be able to direct you to the resources you need.

Here are three examples of listings found for Hennepin County, Ramsey County, and Steele County Minnesota

4. Finally, be sure you are hiring a reputable recycler. Do your own background checking on the company/companies being considered for the event. Ask for current licenses and a list of end facilities or waste processors. You will want to make sure that all the items community members are recycling is being handled properly. 

Another point you should consider in a recycling company would be experience. If this is the first event held in your community, you will want a recycling company that has worked a history of collection events to help you through – ask for references and be sure to check into them.

5. Once you have determined your chosen recycling vendor is reputable, other details can be worked out with the company you decide to hire for the event. Your community is on it's way to increasing the amounts of Universal and Hazardous Wastes that are responsibly recycled!

Has your community ever had a recycling event? What worked best for you? Share your ideas here, or contact our reps to get started!

Contact TRC

Elementary Student Group TACKLES improper E-WASTE RECYCLING

The Retrofit Companies is pleased to announce our newest partnership, with Team ATHENA of Island Lake Elementary’s First Lego League Team from Shoreview, MN. Team ATHENA (All That High Energy Nerd Action) is made up of 6 girls in 5th-6th grade. The First Lego League is an organization bringing students together to solve real world problems through science, technology, engineering, and math using imagination and teamwork. Team ATHENA has taken on the challenge of responsible electronic waste disposal. They reached out to TRC in order to learn more about this issue.

We are lucky to have insight from the team member Claire on the problem of e-waste and why they wanted to select TRC as an ewaste recycling partner, “We chose this company because they recycle responsibly. When we were learning about electronic waste, we watched a news story about electronics getting shipped to other countries like China and Ghana. The kids burn them to extract the metals. But the kids are getting sick and this is also bad for the environment. TRC doesn’t do this.

Back in October, the team visited TRC’s facility and met with Recycling Division Manager, Dan Harrington, to discuss how to responsibly recycle e-waste. Team member Anisha shares about their facility tour, “We learned that there are a variety of heavy metals in electronics - like mercury and lead. If electronics go in the trash they might wind up in a landfill. These toxic metals might contaminate the ground water and make us sick. If the trash is incinerated, the lithium batteries found in computers can cause an explosion. Plus, data is stored on devices that can be stolen if you are not careful.

Ella tells us, “To solve this problem [of improper e-waste recycling], we are organizing an electronics recycling drive. You can recycle your old electronics.” For their event, the team wanted all of their fellow students to engage in responsible reycling, too. Ginny suggests how to find items you can recycle, “Bring in anything that will fit in your backpack: phones, MP3 players, gaming devices, tablets, iPads, laptops, cords and data cables. Don’t bring in big things like TVs, desktop computers or printers. And make sure your parents are OK with what you bring.”

Aubree shares a bit about how you can prepare and the team’s objective for this event. “Over winter break, go through your house and look for electronics that are broken or that you don’t use. Our goal is for each student to bring in at least one item so we can fill at least one bin!”

Here are the event details: The E-Waste Drive will be held at Island Lake Elementary after the winter break, students and families of the school may participate; January 11-13, 2016. Students (and parents) can drop off their old and broken electronics in a bin by the office before or after school. Please remember, we are accepting smaller electronic items to recycle, anything that could fit into your backpack. For more information, you can ask a Team ATHENA member, or look for the event flyers at the school!

Thanks, Team ATHENA for your interest in recycling & organizing this event. We had so much fun working with you!!

 

Keep reading to learn more about community recycling events!

Learn More About Recycling Collections

Highlights from previous collection events with TRC

Updated March 2017

Here's a letter from one of our recent Community Recycling Collections where the community recycled over 24,000 pounds of electronics and 177 appliances in just a few hours. For the full view, click here.

maplewood letter

The spring recycling collection season is in full swing, but we want to take a minute to thank everyone who has made a decision to responsibly recycle their used computers, burned-out lightbulbs, and broken dorm refrigerators. Our crews have visited eight communities already this spring, and we have almost TWENTY more collections on the books before summer is over for communities and private groups. 

We hope you'll stop by our events - just look for the TRC trucks - and recycle the items you no longer use. If you want help planning an event for your community, school, business, or other group, read our post on how to plan an event.

questions or for help planning and scheduling your next event - call 1-800-795-1230.

How to Plan Your Own Community Recycling Day

UPDATED MARCH 2017

Community recycling collection programs help keep TVs, Electronics, and other Universal Waste out of landfills, and give residents, businesses and other community members a place to safely and responsibly recycle waste that is otherwise difficult to dispose of through regular trash handling firms. These events are referred to as Spring Clean Ups or Household Hazardous Waste Collection days and are generally held in the spring or fall as large events with many waste vendors; however, some communities establish year-round collection sites, too.

Community Recycling Programs are specifically designed to cater to the community’s waste needs and disposal requirements. Waste streams commonly collected at events can include: Universal & Hazardous Wastes like Fluorescent Lamps, Batteries, Ballasts, Electronics, and Mercury Items. Other common wastes that could be collected are Paints, Chemicals, Solvents, Tires, and Commercial & Household Appliances; even old furniture, mattresses and other items that are difficult to dispose or recycle.

recycling collection eventWe encourage the following considerations for communities in the planning stages for recycling days:

What is the best location for your event?

  • Consider ease of access for cars, large trucks and vehicles with trailers.
  • Also consider where the vendors will set up semi-trailers, cubic yard boxes, dumpsters and collection containers.
  • Traffic should be able to easily flow in and out of the area safely.
  • Events generally require large open areas, easy to access, but away from busy streets with a lot of traffic.

Who will staff the event & how many people are needed?

  • Will employees of the vendors be responsible for all of the labor? 
  • Will employees of the City, County or Business heading up the event be responsible for providing helpers on site?
  • Are community groups able to volunteer?
  • Be sure that helpers are available for the duration of the event. Keep in mind that shorter hours open might mean heavy traffic flow, and longer hours may subject the helpers to more standing around time.

What time(s) will be best for your event?

  • Many communities cater to residents by holding events on weekend days. Saturday mornings are very common.
  • Other “events” are set up as permanent collection sites.

What items will be accepted?

  • Wastes accepted will be determined by the vendors available at the event. 
  • Vendors will accept only the special wastes they are licensed to haul and recycle. 
  • Keep in mind safety and local rules and regulations. 
  • Example; if you are going to accept hazardous waste such as flammable wastes or chemicals you will need to be sure to have properly trained staff available to work.

Who funds/organizes community collections?

Events can be organized by any City, State, County, Business or Community group. The methods for funding such events can range from fees for each item charged to the person disposing of them and money is collected on site, to a portion or all of the event’s fees being covered by the organizer. Below are some more specifics.

Cities (Most cities have drop off sites for residential waste, some also organize clean-up day/days)

States (Sometimes there are grants set up for cities/counties to help fund events/drop off sites)

Counties (You can usually check with your county for information on drop off sites for different waste streams, some also help fund community recycling events and recycling centers)

Businesses (Some businesses, usually larger corporations, organize recycling events for their employees, in most cases funded by the business)

Tax payers (Some cities/counties charge a fee for recycling that helps fund recycling centers/initiatives. This is a tax fee taken out. Some collection events also charge a fee for certain items being dropped off, while other items are free.)

describe the image

How to start a community collection:

1. Determine a location for the event. Ensure there is plenty of room to set up cubic yard boxes/pallets, trucks, and that traffic will easily move in and out of the collection area.

2. Figure out what hours and which day to have the event and the amount of helpers/volunteers/employees will be required.

3. Contact a local and reputable recycling company. Use resources such as a county website which also usually lists collection dates already in place, or provide a list of disposal resources for all types of waste. If you cannot find these online, call your county and ask for the department that handles environmental services, household hazardous waste, or Universal and special waste recycling. They should be able to direct you to the resources you need.

Here are three examples of listings found for Hennepin County, Ramsey County, and Steele County Minnesota

4. Finally, be sure you are hiring a reputable recycler. Do your own background checking on the company/companies being considered for the event. Ask for current licenses and a list of end facilities or waste processors. You will want to make sure that all the items community members are recycling is being handled properly. 

Another point you should consider in a recycling company would be experience. If this is the first event held in your community, you will want a recycling company that has worked a history of collection events to help you through – ask for references and be sure to check into them.

5. Once you have determined your chosen recycling vendor is reputable, other details can be worked out with the company you decide to hire for the event. Your community is on it's way to increasing the amounts of Universal and Hazardous Wastes that are responsibly recycled!

Has your community ever had a recycling event? What worked best for you? Share your ideas here, or contact our reps to get started!

Contact TRC

Get new blog posts via email

FEATURED Lighting POSTS

Parking Garage LED Lighting Retrofit Case Study

Lighting Retrofit - Vs - Lighting Redesign

Linear LED & Other T8 LED Resources

Understanding LED Linear T8 tubes

3 types of linear Led tubes

T8 LED Lighting Retrofit Introduction & Safety

Pros and Cons of T8 LED REPLACEMENTS (Links)

What are the other benefits of upgraded lighting?

Alliant Energy Lighting Rebate Info

Lighting insight, Utility Rebates & More

FEATURED Environmental POSTS

Shedding some light on led lamp recycling requirements

Aerosol Can Recycling Process

Aerosol Can Recycling as Universal Waste in Minnesota

How to Plan Your Own Community Recycling Day (REPOST)

Pre-Paid Recycling Program

2016 Residential E-waste Recycling Prices for TRC

2015-16 computer Recycling Prices for TRC

New Residential E-waste Recycling Prices for TRC

Mercury Spills & How To Safely Handle Mercury Waste

Understanding Mercury Waste & Mercury Recycling Process

All posts by topic

View All Topics & Blogs