Reducing waste

Businesses are always seeking ways to increase competitiveness and boost productivity. One way to cut costs is to use resources more efficiently. Preventing waste and pollution before they are generated makes more than economic sense — recycling and environmental purchasing can boost employee morale, improve worker safety, and reduce liability.

Tools and resources

Resource Management Contracting

With resource management (RM) programs, compensation for waste contractors is derived from their ability to help your organization accomplish its waste reduction goals rather than the traditional volume of waste disposed. As a result, RM aligns the contractor’s incentives with your goals as you work together to identify opportunities for prevention, recycling, and recovery.

Designing a program for waste reduction and recycling

The most effective waste reduction and recycling programs start with careful planning and a willingness to learn what works best. There is no one right way to develop a program, but the objectives are clear: first reduce as much of your waste as you can, then reuse or recycle.

Source Reduction NOW!PDF icon Source Reduction NOW manual is a manual dedicated to waste prevention, or "source reduction." It gives guidelines on how to implement a successful source reduction program in organizations of all kinds. It describes problems and suggests proven methods to solve those problems.

Visit for ideas on how to improve or expand your program.

Your county solid waste and recycling office can help you learn about resources in your community: County environmental contacts

Environmental Practices Inventory: A survey of Minnesota grocers

p-p2s1-01_page_1The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency partnered with the Minnesota Grocers Association and the Food Industry Center (University of Minnesota) to conduct a survey of environmental practices among food retailers and grocers in Minnesota.

The report offers both an assessment of environmentally related practices and resources the food retail industry can utilize to further reduce their impact on the environment. It also is a useful reference for service providers that wish to offer assistance to the grocery sector. (Aug. 2009)

Resource: Retail Hardware Best Practices for Waste Management

Retail Hardware pdfTargeted at retail hardware stores, this project demonstrated that reducing waste management and waste disposal costs, improving operating efficiency, and reducing materials cost can save a significant amount of money. Based on pilot projects at four Minnesota Ace Hardware stores, over 40 waste management practices were monitored and documented at the pilot stores for cost and waste savings (in weight and volume).

This PDF icon Retail Hardware Best Practices for Waste Management manual is a management tool, illustrating "best management practices" for waste reduction and pollution prevention. While the manual is specific to the operation of a retail hardware store, many of the lessons learned can be applied to other retail settings. (The Water Foundation, July 1998)

Reduce shipping waste

Reduce transport packaging wasteTransport packaging—containers for shipping products from manufacturer to purchaser—is a significant portion of waste from the business sector. Companies can dramatically reduce their garbage by reusing or recycling a 40-pound pallet!

Twin Cities businesses generate 510,000 tons of waste cardboard and pallets each year. offers ways to eliminate unnecessary packaging, utilize reusable transport packaging, recycle transport packaging waste and purchase recycled content packaging.

Reusable transport packaging offers reusable options that will reduce your long-term costs, prevent the creation of unnecessary garbage, and often make your entire supply and distribution chain more efficient.

Materials exchange

HTML icon Minnesota Materials Exchange

Connects businesses who have unwanted materials with those who can use them. The exchange lists a wide range of items, from chemicals, to furniture to scrap fabric.

Assistance programs

HTML icon MnTAP: Minnesota Technical Assistance Program is a leading Minnesota resource for best practices information. Technical specialists focus by sector to better understand specific industry challenges: the processes, wastes and regulations. MnTAP works to turn those challenges into cost-saving opportunities by offering tailored solutions. MnTAP works with Minnesota manufacturers and industrial service businesses that generate hazardous waste, with technical assistance that includes site visits, an intern program, and information by phone or the web.

Minnesota RETAP offers state businesses assistance that's confidential and non-regulatory in the areas of pollution prevention, waste reduction, and energy-use reduction. Tap the wealth of experience and knowledge of local retired engineers to find cost-saving solutions to environmental challenges.

HTML icon Minnesota Waste Wise is a membership-based assistance program of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. They help their member businesses develop effective waste reduction and recycling programs and find new markets for waste materials. Benefits of paid membership include newsletters, a guidebook, site visits and individualized assistance. For more information, call 651-292-4681 or 800-821-2230 toll free.