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6 Items You Could Be Recycling

Grainger Editorial Staff

It seems like the list of recyclable items grows every day. As you look around your business facility, you may be wondering how much of it can be recycled or reused. Here are a few items that can be recycled that you may not even have been aware of.

1. Packaging Materials

We know that you receive a lot of shipments to run your facility. Regardless of what items you may be ordering, they will all have one thing in common—packaging. Most packaging materials, such as packing peanuts or packing paper, are made from a material called Expanded polystyrene, or EPS. This material is utilized as a low-cost packaging option that can help keep your items safe during transport. They are great for pharmaceuticals, small electronics, fragile glasses—anything that requires a safety cushion while in transport.

However, up until recently, these materials have been tossed out with the regular trash. This adds to solid landfill waste, much of which is non-biodegradable. But there are now centers where this type of material can be recycled or reused. There are over a million local businesses that accept packing peanuts for reuse and several more that accept this material for recycling.

2. Ziploc Bags

You are probably familiar with the recycling bins at the entrance and exits of most grocery stores. But did you know that you can start a recycling program at your business to collect and recycle the same items?

It doesn’t end at plastic grocery bags, either. Any clean, dry bag that is labeled with the recycling number 2 or 4 can be dropped off at these accessible locations. Some examples of these types of bags are Ziploc® brand bags, newspaper bags, dry-cleaning bags, bread bags, produce bags, plastic shipping envelopes and the plastic packaging around paper towels, toilet paper and napkins.

3. Steel Appliances and Vehicles

It is unlikely that you have an entire car that you plan to just throw away. However, it is much more likely that at some point you will be replacing a refrigerator; or a microwave; or perhaps old machine parts, tools, or water heaters. And if you work in maintenance, it is likely you go through a lot of these products. These are all items that can be recycled.

Most of these items are constructed of steel. They have steel shells or bodies and many of the mechanical components inside are made of steel. According to the Steel Recycling Institute, steel is one of the most recycled materials in America, with an 88% recycle rate. Recycling steel conserves natural resources, eliminates solid landfill waste and repurposes a very valuable material. Any steel recycling center near you would be happy to help with those larger items that may need to be hauled away.

4. Carpeting

That wall-to-wall carpet under your feet probably isn’t an item you think about very often. It is a fixed item in your facility and doesn’t require much care. But even the best carpeting has to be replaced at some point.

Because carpeting is an item that isn’t replaced very often, it may not seem like an item that even needs to be recycled. But carpeting is a major contributor in solid waste. Recovery efforts are now being made to turn this low-turnover item into one that is reusable.

This is also a good option for those scraps of carpet left over after an installation. If you’ve gotten or installed new carpeting, you may have a corner stacked with scraps of unused carpet. Instead of letting them take up valuable floor space, consider recycling instead.

5. Computers

Unlike your carpet, you will probably be trading in your computer for an upgrade fairly often. In fact, most of the electronics in your office or facility are going to be replaced every couple of years. With the wired world we live in, that makes for a lot of obsolete items that need to go somewhere.

There are several options for recycling computers and electronic devices. The first place to look would be the item’s manufacturer. Many companies that make and sell electronics have buyback or trade-in options for your used pieces. This can be an economic way to responsibly dispose of your unused items. There are also many companies that take used electronics and recycle them. They offer a diverse range of drop-off and pick-up options.

6. Batteries

Single-use batteries—such as those you might put in small household items like a flashlight or a remote control—are made mostly of alkaline and lithium materials that necessitate they be disposed of properly. Recycling is the best option for these types of batteries; not only does it keep harmful materials from seeping into ground and water systems, but it gives these singleuse items an opportunity to be reused.

There are many take-back options available for batteries, as well as mail-in or drop-off options.

Why Recycle?

Starting to recycle in your facility can be as easy as setting up the right bin for employees to drop their recyclable materials. Recycling programs are good for the environment and is a protection of the resources we use every day. Recycling items like steel, plastic and electronics keep the materials used to make those products available for continued use, while recycling items like batteries and polystyrene help keep our land safe to live in and our water safe to drink. Growing awareness of what we can recycle and how is the first step towards building a sustainable future.


The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.

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