When it comes to recycling, state and local efforts are generally focused on the millions of tons of municipal waste when industrial waste is in the billions of tons. What can I do as a recycler of industrial waste to encourage corporations to recycle?

Dwayne Behrens

Surplus Coatings


Let's slightly change your question. Instead of asking how you can encourage companies to recycle, ask yourself why they currently don't recycle. It's a subtle difference that will help avoid the common error of marketing to oneself rather than to the customer. Viewed this way, there seem to be three main reasons why companies don't recycle: They're unaware of recycling as it relates to their company; they're aware of recycling, have negative attitudes and dismissed it; or they're aware, have positive attitudes but aren't yet recycling.

The lowest hanging fruit are companies that are open to recycling but haven't acted. With this group, take a consultative approach focusing on updating their factual beliefs. Maybe these discussions are about recycling being operationally cheaper than disposing. Maybe labeling themselves "green" will help in the marketplace. An added benefit is that their decision to recycle will be tightly bound to their decision to hire you. Alas, this doesn't apply to our next group.

There are probably companies that are completely unaware of how recycling applies to them. The key is moving them from a "we've always done it this way" mind-set to a "maybe we should consider recycling" mind-set. Basically, you're trying to raise their awareness that recycling is a viable option. The good news is that this type of messaging is not expensive. The bad news is that it will mainly grow the overall pie for recyclers rather than specifically for your company.

Finally, there are companies that are well aware of the facts and still don't want to buy. It's easy to confuse this group with the other two, but if you find yourself thinking, "If they just knew more, I know they'd buy," then it's best to walk away. At least until you're done with the first two groups.

About the author

James Heyman is an associate professor of marketing at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business.