7 Questions to Ask a Recycling Vendor Before Hiring Them

As leaders in the B2B space, the choices you make in waste management can have lasting implications for your business as well as the planet. Choosing a recycling vendor that puts sustainability first helps align your business operations with practices that contribute positively to environmental conservation, which is a big priority for today’s consumers. A case in point: recent research found that a sustainable lifestyle is important to 78% of U.S. consumers.

Recycling and junk removal vendors that emphasize sustainability often go beyond regulatory compliance to incorporate eco-friendly operations that reduce carbon footprint, minimize landfill waste, and contribute to a circular economy. 

But how do you verify their claims surrounding sustainability to ensure that the company’s practices align with your corporate values? By asking them these 7 essential questions. Let’s dive in. 

Why Sustainability Matters in Waste Management

When it comes to waste management, the stakes have never been higher. Global waste is expected to grow to 3.4 billion tons by 2050, nearly double the levels in 2016. This alarming growth in waste generation makes it imperative for businesses to adopt sustainable waste management practices. But how does sustainability impact your business exactly? In three main areas:

  • Environmental. By reducing, reusing, and recycling, your business can significantly cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, lower the amount of waste ending up in landfills, and decrease resource extraction. One study found that recycling and composting can save more than 193 million metric tons in carbon dioxide in a single year.
  • Financial. Sustainable practices often mean lower waste disposal fees and potential tax benefits. A well-executed sustainability program can also lead to operational efficiencies and cost savings in the long term.
  • Social. Research shows that 88% of consumers will be more loyal to a business that supports environmental or social issues. By aligning with a sustainable waste management vendor, you’re building brand equity and working to attract a growing segment of eco-conscious consumers, investors, and partners.

Now you know why to hire a sustainable recycling vendor; let’s get into the how with 7 questions to ask a recycling vendor before you hire them.

Question 1: What Materials Do You Recycle?

When looking for a new recycling vendor, the first question on your list should be deceptively simple: “What materials do you recycle?” This question may seem obvious, but it’s crucial to ensure that the vendor you choose can handle the specific kinds of waste your business produces. Depending on your industry, your company will generate a variety of waste types—paper, plastic, metals, glass, organics, and perhaps even specialized waste like electronics or hazardous materials.

Beyond that, a responsible recycling company will have a system in place to separate recyclables from landfill-bound items effectively. This is essential for achieving the highest landfill diversion rates possible. As of the last major survey in 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that only approximately 32.1% of waste in the U.S. was recycled, leaving ample room for improvement. A vendor that can recycle a wide range of materials in an efficient manner is key to upping those percentages.

Question 2: Do You Have Recycling Partners for Specialty Recyclables?

As we already mentioned, many businesses generate specialized waste types like e-waste, textiles, cleaning supplies, personal care products, food waste, and even candles.

Specialty recyclables often require unique handling procedures. For example: 

  • E-waste can contain hazardous materials like lead and mercury, which pose significant health and environmental risks and must be dealt with carefully.
  • Cleaning supplies and personal care products may contain chemicals that require safe disposal to prevent soil and water contamination. 

A vendor that has established partnerships for handling specialty recyclables will have the expertise and networks to ensure these items are recycled responsibly.

Proper disposal and recycling of specialty items can prevent harmful materials from contaminating soil and water sources. E-waste alone accounts for 70% of the toxic waste in landfills, though it makes up just 2% of trash in America. By selecting a vendor who has partnerships for recycling these specialty items, you contribute to a more sustainable ecosystem while reducing your company’s environmental footprint.

Question 3: Do You Have Local Donation Partners for Reusable Items?

You might wonder how this question fits into a conversation about recycling, but reuse is just as important—if not more so—than recycling itself.

A sustainable waste management vendor should go beyond recycling and have partnerships with local charitable organizations like the Salvation Army, Goodwill, or other nonprofits. Reusing items not only prevents waste but also extends the lifecycle of items, thereby reducing the demand for new items and helping curb the environmental impact of manufacturing. 

Partnering with organizations that specialize in reusing items tackles sustainability from multiple angles, helping contribute to a circular economy, where products and materials are reused and recycled as much as possible before becoming waste. This practice not only diverts waste from landfills but also provides goods that can benefit local communities. 

Question 4: How Do You Track and Measure Sustainability?

This is perhaps the most critical question in terms of holding vendors accountable for their environmental impact. It’s easy for any vendor to claim they prioritize sustainability, but how do they actually quantify these efforts? 

A responsible recycling company should provide data or metrics that show how their services reduce your company’s environmental footprint. For example, they might offer landfill diversion rate reports or carbon footprint analyses, as well as track-and-trace reports. The waste management industry is becoming increasingly data-driven, with smart sensors, applied analytics, and machine learning helping companies monitor and optimize waste streams. 

Finding a recycling vendor that is up to date on current recycling data standards will prove important for your company’s own ESG reporting efforts.

Question 5: Do You Have Any Industry Certifications or Associations?

Certifications and professional memberships or recognitions can speak volumes about a vendor’s commitment to sustainability. While some certifications focus on environmental management systems, others provide third-party verification of a company’s eco-friendly credentials. Memberships in industry-specific organizations also demonstrate a company’s commitments to sustainability within a certain vertical.

Industry Associations Examples

Let’s break down a few examples:

  • ISO 14001: This certification signifies that a vendor adheres to internationally recognized environmental management standards.
  • Green Seal: A certification by Green Seal indicates that a vendor has met rigorous, science-based environmental leadership standards.
  • Cyclyx International Partner: This partnership shows a vendor’s commitment to advancing the recycling of post-use plastics into new products.
  • Green Sports Alliance: Vendors participating in this alliance focus on inspiring sports leagues, teams, and venues to adopt sustainable practices.

Industry certifications and associations provide not only an extra layer of trust but also a standardized metric to help you assess a vendor’s sustainability practices.

Question 6: What’s Your Company’s Energy Usage and Carbon Footprint?

Understanding the energy efficiency and other metrics associated with your vendor’s operations can provide a more comprehensive picture of their sustainability efforts. In particular, inquire about these factors:

  • Energy-efficient practices within the vendor’s facilities. Do they employ renewable energy solutions, or do they have an Energy Star rating for their buildings? 
  • The typical mileage their fleet accumulates in the process of junk and recycling hauling. Vendors with local recycling partners will burn far less fossil fuels since they’ll be hauling your waste a shorter distance, contributing to a lower carbon footprint.
  • Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) score and/or overall carbon footprint. A growing number of companies are disclosing their ESG scores, but even if the vendor doesn’t have one, they can likely give you an approximation of their carbon footprint.

By partnering with a vendor that’s mindful of its energy consumption and carbon footprint, you’re making a statement about your own company’s values and commitment to sustainability.

Question 7: Can You Provide Case Studies or References?

Nothing speaks to a company’s capabilities better than real-world examples and testimonials from happy customers. Whether you read an in-depth case study about how a vendor has successfully implemented sustainable practices for their clients, or you peruse reviews of the vendor on an online review site like Yelp or Google, this social proof is a powerful testament to the actual business practices of the vendor. And if you’re considering a large contract or investment, asking for references you can speak to directly will allow you to further verify the vendor’s claims and while offering candid insights into the vendor’s reliability, efficiency, and transparency—factors that are integral to a successful, long-term partnership.

Making the Right Recycling Vendor Choice for a Sustainable Future

Selecting a sustainable recycling and junk removal vendor isn’t a decision to be taken lightly, especially when your company is committed to sustainability. Asking these seven crucial questions provides you with a structured approach for doing your research. And if you’re still looking for the right recycling partner, consider adding CheckSammy to your list. As a respected sustainable recycling and junk removal company, we do more than just talk the talk; we embody a truly sustainable business mission.


Continue reading

Dive deeper into the CheckSammy Blog by reading one of our posts below

view all posts