The Inside Track: Getting “lean” with packaging

The Inside Track is a recurring column designed exclusively for our Just Business email newsletter. Authors of these columns aim to provide you with their own perspective on a current trend or development within their industry, getting you on The Inside Track.

The Inside Track: Getting “lean” with packaging

By Lisa Schmidt, chair of the Clark County Solid Waste Advisory Commission

In homes across Southwest Washington, people continue to recycle and now are shopping with reduced packaging in mind. While this movement has had a significant, positive impact on landfills and our environment, Clark County Environmental Services reports that it is in the world of business where the volumes and economics of materials for recycling and packaging considerations can be even more impressive.

While individuals generally recycle and consider the packaging of the products they purchase for environmental or conservation reasons, commercial generators of waste may want to consider other reasons for being environmentally conscious in these areas. In fact, many businesses may want to consider other environmental concerns before recycling such as reduced packaging prior to making the product and when sending the product to market.

But does considering the environment tally up to a good business decision? Many manufacturers, warehouses, retailers and office-building operators generate waste packaging materials in large quantities. With landfill tipping fees only increasing, the cost of waste disposal is easily considered a major monthly expense.  

Aside from saving landfill fees, other sound business practices for considering the environment in regard to packaging concerns include:

  • The opportunity to improve your corporate image with customers
  • To conserve natural resources
  • To reduce pollution (often eliminates the potential for fines and fees)
  • To assist Clark County in achieving statewide goals and be recognized as a leader

When starting a successful commercial environmental campaign, which includes environmental packaging for your business, you should consider three elements:


Just about every business generates recyclable items, but to make a commercial package recycling program effective a business or chain of businesses must generate marketable, recyclable waste in quantities that offset the costs for collection and processing

Processing facility

A processing facility is a central location where recyclable materials from many customers are collected, sorted and shipped to end-users of the materials. You can help to attract more of these processing facilities to the area by purchasing recycled-content products for your business and making it known to your local officials about your concerns.


Finding markets for packaging materials or other recyclables usually proves more important than volume. There are instances of businesses that generate a sufficient volume of recyclable waste material, but because there are no available markets for materials, a recycling program is not feasible. However, where recycling is feasible, the results can be astounding. For example, a documented success for Giant Foods reported the following:

  • Stretch film for recycling: 12 tons per month
  • Landfill avoidance: $8,640/year
  • Transportation avoidance: $14,400/year
  • Total Positive Cash Flow: $28,800/year
  • Bailing cost: $8,640/year
  • Net Positive Cash Flow: $20,160/year
  • Positive Cash Flow Per Pound of Film Recycling: $0.07

In this time of heightened environmental awareness, reducing waste and recycling packaging materials may help you earn loyal customers. Residents all over are recycling and looking for companies who are paying attention to packaging by purchasing from companies that recycle and are providing products in packaging that can be recycled.  

Clark County Environmental Services Department has resource information and services available to help business, industry and other organizations reduce waste and recycle. For more information, visit  



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.