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Commercial Waste Recycling

The recycling of commercial waste should not be confused with commercial collection, sorting and recycling of household waste such as might be done by a municipality or a private recycling firm. Commercial waste recycling refers to the reclamation of scrap materials from industries or businesses. It generally does not refer to agricultural waste products, chemical or hazardous waste.

An example of commercial waste which can easily be reclaimed includes pre-consumer paper. Typically, the manufacture of paper products results in unused material where shapes and dimensions do not fit the factory produced rolls of raw paper or cardboard. Industrial equipment is designed to be efficient, but when millions of boxes, notebooks or novelty items are cut, even small scraps add up to tons of unused paper. This waste can be reclaimed more cheaply than any post-consumer collection.

The same principle is extended to businesses which manufacture metal products. The stamping or tooling of steel, aluminum and copper produces waste which is pure, and relatively clean, compared to post-consumer waste. Metals which are more rarely used may generate less scrap, but their higher value can make it worthwhile to recover waste.

Companies which receive many packaged goods can easily recycle the cardboard, plastic, and wood packing materials. The volume of like products and the efficiency of bundling and collecting them is cost effective.

Construction waste is also considered commercial. There are not always markets for such things as used asphalt shingles, however, wood, concrete, and bricks can often be reclaimed.

In recent years, machines have been built which can remove asphalt from a roadbed, recycle and rehabilitate it. The “new” product is then laid again on the same road.

The more pure the waste stream, the more easily it can be sorted with industrial equipment. For example, the sorting of household recyclables is typically problematic. The various types of plastic do not lend themselves to mechanical sorting. Non-recyclables mixed with acceptable material causes contamination and can drastically reduce the value of the product being reclaimed. It is expensive to hire people to do the sorting of commodities which don’t command high prices.

Therefore, it makes sense, from a business point of view, to take advantage of commercial waste recycling of materials which can be collected before being combined with dissimilar materials. This necessarily occurs when various metals and plastics are combined to create consumer products such as cars, electronics and household goods.


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