Reduce, Reuse, Recycle to optimize material use

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Written by: Jessica Wright

Optimized material selection and use extends product value, promotes sustainability, and reduces costs. It is essential to better buying.

REDUCE

Receiving suppliesAlmost all organizations can reduce packaging waste. Best practices for packaging apply to purchases as well as products being shipped.

Set standards with vendors

When selecting a vendor, consider how goods or materials will be packaged and shipped. The quantities of disposable packaging will take up receiving room space and later impact disposal costs.  During negotiations you may wish to ask specific questions and specify contract provisions for all that is delivered:

  • Will the purchases be packed in multiples to avoid individual packaging?
  • What packaging and shipping materials can be reused?
  • What is the take-back program for items only needed for a limited time?

Understand waste, to limit waste

If disposable or damaged materials are seen repeatedly, it may be time for a hands-on assessment. A waste audit[1] will identify and quantify worn, damaged, and single-use items. Disposable items may have reusable alternatives. In other cases, availability or replacement parts and the ease of repair becomes an essential cost comparison.

The results from your waste assessment can be incorporated into purchasing decisions.

REUSE

Donated construction materialsReuse provides a ‘second life’ for purchased materials. While improving Return On Investment, reuse keeps excess and expended items from polluting a landfill or an ocean. Collaboration with other organizations or donating items to a cause or charity are optimal next steps.

Collaboration

Excess or expended materials may have salvage value which brings revenue rather than hauling costs.

Other forms of collaboration conserve value. One hospital network in Florida collaborates with a recycling service provider to reduce waste. As beds are changed, hospital employees gather the sheets and other linens into plastic bags. When collecting the linens, a hospital-owned linen service empties the bags. Empty bags are sent up a vacuum tube and into a recycling truck.

When contracting with the recycler, the hospital’s linen service anticipated that an occasional stray towel or sheet might remain in a recycled bag. It included a contract provision requiring that the recycling service return any linens, for potential reuse. That collaboration with the recycler saves the hospital hundreds of dollars a year in replacement materials.

Donation

Often, materials at the End Of Life (EOL) need not be discarded.

A hotel chain might specify 20 cycles as the EOL for bed sheets. Residential charities might want any sheets that have not reached the End of Useful Life (EOUL). Also, after work space or hotel room renovations, replaced furnishings could go to a variety of charities. Offices at any community partner will need chairs and lamps.

EOL item donations can bring the benefit of community appreciation and recognition along with any tax advantage.

RECYCLE

Ink cartridge recyclingAn optimal recycling program may begin with the single-stream recycling of paper, glass, and plastic in offices, break rooms, and warehouses. Depending on what an organization uses and the quantity of EOUL material, specialized recycling can yield even greater value. Some retail stores accept small items like light bulbs, batteries, printer cartridges, and pens.[3]

Specialized recycling facilities like these examples are the best options for items in larger quantities:

  • Any retail or commercial organization that provides uniforms should consider working with a textile recycler. The same is true for hospitals and other residential facilities, as well as fine dining restaurants. A textile recycler can take these EOL materials and turn them into new usable materials for the community.
  • Residential facilities might also need to dispose of mattresses. Mattress recyclers (such as Mustard Seed in Orlando, Florida) disassemble mattresses, sending fabric, foam, and inner springs to other recyclers, reducing the material sent to landfill.
  • Any organization that owns or manages property will one day renovate or construct buildings. The contracts for doing the work should specify Construction and Demolition (C&D) material recycling with a local C&D recycling facility.

Optimized material use is essential to the circular economy. Its best practices will benefit society and the environment while furthering the organization’s cost control and efficiency. With minimal waste, resources will yield maximum value.[3]

Would your organization find value in optimized material use? ecoPreserve is here to help your team discover which materials to reduce, reuse, or recycle.

[1] ecoPreserve.net —  Sustainable purchasing/waste audit
[2] ecoPreserve.net —  Sustainable purchasing/recycling
[3] Waste360.com

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AWARE of CDC and NIH guidelines

The Baseline Property Condition Assessments described in ASTM E2018-15 do not specify consideration of infectious disease transmission concerns. In a pandemic and post-pandemic environment, that inspection and documentation is essential.

Buildings open to the public must comply with local regulations. For best results and greatest public acceptance, any planning for building repairs and maintenance should not overlook current CDC and NIH guidelines.

Optionally, ecoPreserve's can assist with a comprehensive GBAC STAR™ Accreditation which extends beyond the building to include the goals, actions, equipment, and supplies needed to implement best practices for outbreak prevention, response, and recovery.

Tools tailored to location and need

Disaster resilience requires a select toolset, identified, adapted, or created as needed based on planning calls and inclusive workshop participation.

Business and government organizations today are confronted by threat categories that range from drought to flood, from fire to hurricane, and extend globally to pandemics and sea level rise. Threat categories are broad and diverse, but ecoPreserve and collaborating organizations design resiliency tools for specific local context.

Local needs are identified and verified. Building from that essential understanding, tools are designed, tested in pilot programs, refined, then implemented through action plans.

Today's challenges/
tomorrow's potential

ecoPreserve collaborates with major community and private organizations in optimizing the resiliency and resource efficiency of their workplaces, venues, and public spaces.

In response to ever-increasing environmental, sociopolitical, and public health challenges, we advocate for and participate in assessment and planning actions that directly address disaster preparations, recovery activities, infrastructure improvements, and smart building/city design.

Online and in-person workshops

ecoPreserve designs and leads workshops in varied formats, to achieve varied goals.

Often an event is held for skill and knowledge development, but some needs of an organization or community are better resolved through collaboration to identify requirements and to design solutions. A range of Disaster Resilience workshops are available for solutions planning and development, as well as for training and communication.

Disaster Planning and Recovery Workshops

  • Identify technical and business process gaps
  • Define stakeholders, recovery teams, and processes/functionalities necessary for operation
  • Highlight missed expectations from a data loss and recovery time perspective
  • Address compliance with regulatory agencies and industry standards
Here's how to request further information. Thank you for reaching out!

Here's how to request further information. Thank you for reaching out!

Facility Condition Report

The report is prepared in accordance with the recommendations of ASTM E2018-15, Standard Guide for Property Condition Assessments. This is a partial list of contents:

  • PHYSICAL CONDITION
    • General condition of the building, grounds, and appurtenances
    • Physical deficiencies, their significance, and suggested remedies
    • Photographs
    • Safety issues observed
  • INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPREAD POTENTIAL
  • OPPORTUNITIES
    • Potential operating efficiencies
    • Electricity and water use reductions
    • High-efficiency interior and exterior lighting
  • ORDER OF MAGNITUDE RENOVATION BUDGET
    • Recommended interior finishes
    • Construction costs

Risk Mitigation Improvements

  • IAQ
    • Airflow
    • Temperature and humidity
    • Vertical transportation (escalators and elevators)
  • HVAC EQUIPMENT
    • Settings
    • Conditions
    • Capability
    • Filtration
  • FLOORPLAN
    • Traffic patterns
  • FURNISHINGS
    • Placement for social distancing
    • Clear barriers where social distancing is not possible

Interior Elements

  • Foundation
  • Building frame and roof
  • Structural elements
    • Floors, walls, ceilings
    • Access and egress
    • Vertical transportation (escalators and elevators)
  • HVAC equipment and ductwork
  • Utilities
    • Electrical
    • Plumbing
  • Safety and fire protection

Grounds and Appurtenances

  • Façades or curtainwall
  • Topography
  • Storm water drainage
  • Paving, curbing, and parking
  • Flatwork
  • Landscaping
  • Recreational facilities
Here's how to request further information. Thank you for reaching out!

AWARE of CDC and NIH guidelines

The Baseline Property Condition Assessments described in ASTM E2018-15 do not specify consideration of infectious disease transmission concerns. In a pandemic and post-pandemic environment, that inspection and documentation is essential.

Buildings open to the public must comply with local regulations. For best results and greatest public acceptance, any planning for building repairs and maintenance should not overlook current CDC and NIH guidelines.

Optionally, ecoPreserve's can assist with a comprehensive GBAC STAR™ Accreditation which extends beyond the building to include the goals, actions, equipment, and supplies needed to implement best practices for outbreak prevention, response, and recovery.

An OPTIMIZED Assessment

Certified Sustainability Consultants on a facility assessment team can discover ways to lower energy costs. Their understanding of HVAC equipment suitability and condition along with the specifics of LED lighting retrofits can provide offsets for needed investments in upgrades and replacements.

Knowledge of water systems can bring further savings while averting water waste. It can all be part of an assessment which might otherwise overlook water fixtures and irrigation schedules.

How should a facility be ASSESSED?

A thorough facility assessment finds the issues - on the surface or below - which have a potential negative impact on the building. That brings the facility to meet building codes. Beyond that, the assessment proactively addresses the deficiencies not covered by code.

The occupants of a building benefit as the assessment reveals conditions having a potential impact on their health or safety. The assessment must not overlook those conditions, nor fail to consider the frequency and duration of occupant visits.