Q&A: Replace the waste by creating a recycling program


Our practice produces a lot of waste. How can we create a manageable recycling program?

First, establish a "green" business culture and philosophy, says Dr. Matthew Rooney, owner of LEED-certified Aspen Meadow Veterinary Specialists in Longmont, Colo. Create a green committee made up of team members who brainstorm and implement green initiatives on a regular basis. Your commitment to the environment should also be reflected on your Web site and visible to staff and clients.

Next, create waste stations in your practice. In each station, include a large recycling container, a larger compost container, and a smaller waste bin. You can make labels for inexpensive bins, or you can install commercial bins commonly used in businesses.

Create another waste station near your outdoor dumpster, complete with a smaller waste dumpster, a larger recycling dumpster, and a composting site. You can handle composting yourself or hire a composting business.

Many recycling companies will help you set up your program, provide signage for waste stations, and even train your team members. And it's important to obtain quality training—inappropriate items placed in compost or recycling containers could result in the whole dumpster being rejected, sending everything into the landfill.

Finally, consider a waste audit. This is a cheap, easy tool to gauge how your practice's program is doing. A waste audit at Aspen Meadow Veterinary Specialists revealed a 70 percent reduction in landfill contributions. Regular audits—alongside a strong business philosophy and culture—can help ensure that your recycling program succeeds.

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