"Zero Waste" and your Small Business

BY Vanessa Farquharson, Communications Manager for TerraCycle Canada

Running a small business can mean creating surprisingly large volumes of waste, and many times it's industry-specific stuff — a car repair shop will end up with lots of broken auto parts; a daycare will amass a variety of used baby accessories; a salon will need to dispose of excess cosmetics packaging — and trying to figure out whether to toss such items in the recycling bin or the garbage can be tricky.

Some waste can be recycled through a local municipality's blue box program, however much of it cannot, and the majority of Canadians are far too busy to start poring over various documents outlining the difference between HDPE plastics and LDPE plastics, or phoning up city hall every time they forget whether or not Styrofoam can be recycled.

Finally, there's a solution for those who want to incorporate sustainability into their business model (or just their household) without getting a degree in waste management.

Staples has partnered with TerraCycle Canada to give consumers — both home owners and small business owners — the ability to recycle nearly everything, and it all happens with a new product called the Zero Waste Box, which can be purchased in different sizes and categories at Staples.ca.

Using the examples above, the Cosmetics Zero Waste Box accepts any waste associated with the beauty industry (nail polish jars and applicators, lipstick tubes, eyeshadow kits); the Auto Maintenance and Accessories Zero Waste Box accepts any parts or instruments used to repair cars; the Baby Care Zero Waste Box accepts a range of items related to infant and toddler care such as pacifiers and toys. There are more than 100 different categorized boxes to choose from, depending on the need.

Each box, once purchased, is ready to be stuffed with the items described on its label. It also comes with a pre-paid UPS shipping label, making it easy to send to TerraCycle, a local recycling agency that ensures all the items are properly sorted and diverted from landfill.

Furthermore, those who get stuck deciding which box to purchase can simply choose a Zero Waste Box according to room, instead — for instance, the Breakroom Zero Waste Box will accept almost every item that could possibly be discarded in an office kitchen or snack room (take-out containers, disposable cutlery, coffee and tea accessories, broken thermoses and more).

So why is this such a big deal?

In short, it means we are incredibly close to proving that 100% of the garbage we produce can actually be reused, recycled or even upcycled into new products. TerraCycle's mandate is to eliminate the idea of waste, and the job of the Zero Waste Box is to facilitate that — to replace garbage bins in as many homes and offices as possible, helping people understand that trash is, in fact, something to be valued.

And for small business owners, especially, is means the opportunity to be a “Zero Waste” company. It's a bit like branding oneself as Zero Footprint, except that instead of making payments toward carbon-offsetting programs, this involves diverting actual waste — that you can see and touch — from landfill and showing customers, in person with full transparency, how the business is making a real difference.

This matters to Canadians, who have demonstrated that they care about protecting the environment and making the world better, but want reassurance that doing so can be easy. Now, at last, it is.

Check out the complete assortment here .

By Michelle Janzso

October 21, 2014

Staples Canada