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Small business owners: If you wish you could recycle but aren’t sure how, or whether it’s worth the hassle, you can sign up for a free service that will take a look at the waste you throw away and give suggestions for how to recycle or prevent it instead, potentially saving you money.

The Benton County and Boston Mountain solid waste management districts provide waste audits at no charge for interested small businesses in Benton, Washington and Madison counties. Participants aren’t obligated to do anything differently afterward, but they’ll have the tools to do so: contacts, ideas, even some money for new recycle bins and the like for those in Washington and Madison counties. The results will also teach our region more about what businesses need from their recycling services — information that’s essential to creating better services in the future.

It’s all part of the larger project by the districts and NWA Recycles, with support from Walmart, to coordinate and grow the region’s recycling over the coming years.

Getting results

These audits can make a big difference for small businesses in very different industries. For example, a recent audit at Black Apple Hard Cider in Springdale found:

  • More than half of its garbage could go somewhere other than the business’s trash dumpster.
  • Hibiscus flowers and tea leaves for some of its cider varieties could be composted through a company such as Food Loops, as could a new kind of cup for customers.
  • By making those changes and recycling cardboard and cans, Black Apple reduced some of its trash-hauling costs and shrank its environmental footprint.

    Justin Taylor, a Boston Mountain Solid Waste District educator, sorts through cardboard and other recyclables in Encompass Health’s trash.

An audit this year at Encompass Health and Rehabilitation Hospital in Fayetteville found similar results:

How to start

What could an audit find at your business? Maybe it’s glass that could be recycled instead of weighing down your trash, or cardboard boxes that could go elsewhere instead of filling up your dumpster. Here’s how to find out:

  • For businesses in Washington and Madison counties, reach the Boston Mountain district at recycle@bmswd.com or 479-846-3005.
  • In Benton County, email clerk@bentoncountyrecycles.org or call 479-795-0751.
  • All sectors and types of small businesses are welcome.