More Baltimore businesses are starting recycling programs as they become more environmentally aware and find that they can save money.
About 150 local companies are already participating in a recycling program offered since July by Browning-Ferris Industries Inc., a Houston, Texas-based trash disposal company. Under the program, companies that separate their waste paper from other trash and put it into special containers are not charged for the disposal of that trash, though they still must pay for the trash containers and the pick-up, according to Lizetta M. Paturalski, recycling coordinator for Browing-Ferris.
In turn, the waste paper is taken to Chesapeake Paperboard Co. in Baltimore where it is turned into poster board.
"It's great. It's taking off," said Paturalski about the new program. By recycling their waste paper this way, companies can save from $10 to $600 a month in waste disposal costs, depending on the size of the business, Paturalski said.
To hold the waste paper, customers get special gray dumpsters bearing RecycleNow logos on the front. The normal Browning-Ferris dumpsters are blue.
The company now gets about 75 tons a month of waste paper to recycle; that amounts to about 1.5 percent of the total trash that the company handles in Maryland.
Besides being prompted by a growing environmental awareness, Browning-Ferris decided to start offering the service because it will probably be mandatory in the near future, Paturalski said.
One of the companies participating in the Browning-Ferris program is Harbor Court Hotel, a luxury hotel on Light Street in the Inner Harbor, which has been recycling its waste paper for the last three months.
Betsy F. Goldfeder, director of catering for the hotel, became interested in recycling the hotel's waste paper during the spring around the Earth Day celebration, but said it was difficult finding a company to take the paper. "People said you can't do it," she recalled. But then she learned about the Browning-Ferris program, which was just starting up.
Under the program, which may be the first such effort by a Baltimore hotel, Harbor Court recycles all the newspaper, stationery, cardboard and other paper products generated by its business and housekeeping operations. Even the room maids have two receptacles -- one for paper and a second for other trash -- on their pushcarts. The hotel eventually may put separate receptacles in the hotel rooms for guests to separate their trash, Goldfeder said.
Harbor Court was motivated by concern over the environment and the amount of waste generated at the hotel, she said.
The program has proven very popular and condominium owners and employees contributing to the collection, Goldfeder said. Because of the extra pick-ups of the special container, the hotel has realized a net savings yet, she said. But she anticipates saving a couple hundred dollars a month in the future on trash disposal.
Another paper recycling program available to businesses is the We-cycle Office Wastepaper program offered by Weyerhaeuser Paper Co. of Tacoma, Wash.
Under this program, workers separate high-grade office paper into holders that are placed on desks throughout a workplace. This paper is gathered and picked up by Weyerhaeuser, which bundles it at its Dorsey facility near Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
Unlike the Browning-Ferris program, which takes all paper products, the Weyerhaeuser program takes only high-grade paper, which includes letterhead, typing paper, copy machine paper, white tablet paper, computer printout paper and miscellaneous white paper. These are recycled into paper that can be printed on. Another difference is that Weyerhaeuser pays most of the program's participants for their paper. Depending on the quality of the paper and the market for it, payments range from $20 to $100 a ton, according to Jamie M. Waldren, sourcing representative for Weyerhaeuser.
More than 200 Maryland businesses are in the Weyerhaeuser program, which has existed since 1975. The amount of paper handled at Dorsey has jumped from 1,300 tons two years ago to 2,000 tons, Waldren said.
To handle increased supply, the company has added an extra baler to the facility and expanded the building from 45,000 to 70,000 square feet, Waldren said.
Participating companies include insurance, finance, communications and printing firms, health providers and defense contractors, Waldren said. Participants include such giants as AT&T, IBM and USF&G, he said.
Nationally, Weyerhaeuser recycles about 1.2 million tons of paper a year, and the company is considering expanding into recycling aluminum, glass and newspapers, Waldren said.
A company that has recently joined the Weyerhaeuser program is the Baltimore Sun Co., publisher of The Evening Sun and The Sun and a subsidiary of the Times Mirror Co. of Los Angeles.