Getting Senior Management to Support More Extensive Recycling

Five tips to get your senior management on board

The vast majority of companies implementing recycling programs realize some degree of success. Waste Management finds that many of its customers easily achieve diversion rates of 50% or more in the initial phase of their recycling program. However, improvement beyond 50% becomes increasingly difficult and often requires business process changes and/or capital equpment investments. Securing management support for these investments and changes can take more effort than the project itself.

Here are five tips that can help you get your senior management on board:

Tip 1: Bundle Your Project

No matter how noble your “Green” project, approval will likely hinge on the ability to produce an attractive return on investment (ROI). If you’re having trouble making the case on your projects ROI alone, consider bundling the project with one that will permit the net ROI from all the projects to meet your company’s criteria.

Tip 2: Enlist Broad Organizational Support

When presented in the proper business context, recycling and other sustainability initiatives can become important tactical tools in other areas of your organization. Make sure other organizaitonal leaders are aware of your project and discuss ways your project can help them with their goals. For example, your company’s marketing director may be interested in using sustainability to promote your company’s environmental efforts and improve customer engagement. Human resources may be interested in the impact sustainability has had on improving employee morale.

Tip 3: Pilot First

Conducting a scaled down trial program provides an opportunity to test out process changes and allow you to make adjustments before full implementation. A pilot also provides measurable results - qualitative and quantitative data - in support of your business case.

Tip 4: Benchmark

Contact other companies that are willing to share their experience with similar projects. Benchmarking can provide valuable insight and help you avoid pitfalls. More importantly, data from benchmarking can help you assemble a stronger case for change and provide confidence that you’re on the right track.

Tip 5: Establish Proper Linkage

Make it easy for those involved in the decision making process to understand how the proposed change is connected to the achievement of your company’s operational and strategic goals. The stronger the linkage the more likely it is that you will gain approval. Also, try to associate the success of your project to as many goals as possible and across departments. Doing so, will not only help you gain broader support, but also help you pick out key allies that can ask for help to win support.

To schedule a waste audit and find out what types of recycling programs are best for your business, call Waste Management Sustainability Services at 877-441-3046 or visit our website at

About the Author

Waste Management

Waste Management, Inc. is North America's leading provider of integrated environmental solutions. We partner with our customers and communities to manage and reduce waste from collection to disposal while recovering valuable resources and creating clean, renewable energy.

Our 45,000 employees are committed to Environmental Performance — our mission to maximize resource value, while minimizing environmental impact so that both our economy and our environment can thrive. Serving over 20 million residential, industrial, municipal and commercial customers, Waste Management posted $12.52 billion of revenues in 2010.

Drawing on our resources and experience, we actively pursue projects and initiatives that benefit the waste industry, the communities we serve and the environment.

• Waste Management uses waste to create enough energy to power more than 1 million homes every year. By 2020, we expect to double that output, creating enough energy to power more than 2 million homes.

• As North America’s largest recycler, Waste Management managed more than 7 million tons of recyclable commodities in 2009. By the year 2020, we expect to increase the amount of material we manage to more than 20 million tons per year.

• By the end of 2009, Waste Management had 119 landfill-gas-to-energy projects producing 540 megawatts of power, the equivalent of powering approximately 400,000 homes.

• At the end of 2009, we had more than 800 natural gas-powered trucks in our fleet, with plans to add 200 more in 2010. During the year, we also used technology to reduce the fuel burn of every truck in our fleet. When fully implemented, this is expected to save 9 million gallons of fuel per year.

• Our wholly owned subsidiary Wheelabrator Technologies owns or operates 16 waste-to-energy plants and five independent power production facilities in the U.S. that generate enough energy to power more than 900,000 homes.

• Through a joint venture with the Linde Group, we have built a plant that converts landfill gas into liquefied natural gas for use as fuel in our trucks. The facility is currently producing 13,000 gallons per day.

• At the end of 2009, we had a total of 73 WHC-certified sites. We also set a goal to have 25,000 acres dedicated solely to nature preservation by 2020, and we have nearly reached that goal: at year-end, we had 24,000 protected acres.

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