Zero Waste

Learn how to reduce and create a sustainable environment for everyone

At Athens Services, we understand the importance of Zero Waste in creating a more sustainable environment. We are proud of the many businesses, organizations, and municipalities we service that have adopted Zero Waste goals and programs, and we are determined to continue educating the community.

What is Zero Waste?

Zero Waste places priority on “upstream” solutions to eliminate waste before it is created.

Zero Waste considers everything a RESOURCE; nothing is a waste.

Zero Waste is designed to serve a business’s triple bottom line: People, Profit, Planet.

Zero Waste sets a goal for businesses, organizations and municipalities to minimize their discards by at least 90%.

Zero Waste requires that existing recycling and reuse efforts are maximized, while ensuring that products are designed for the environment and have the potential to be repaired, reused, recycled or composted.

Why Zero Waste?

Utilizing a Zero Waste system, homes, businesses and communities will first reduce the amount of materials created, thus saving natural resources, energy and water. The would-be waste material is then reused, recycled, or composted reducing the amount of discards to a landfill. A Zero Waste system is designed to safely return materials back to industry or soil without any ill effects to human, animal or planet health. We all live on a finite planet, and discarded material must be handled responsibly.

How Can We Reduce Waste?

Many businesses have adopted Zero Waste goals and action plans, and we encourage researching and contacting businesses directly to better understand their process. At Athens, we have helped numerous businesses achieve their waste reduction goals, and we recommend these helpful tips:

Reduce Waste at the Office

Reduce Waste at Home

How to Compost

Zero Waste Event Planning

Office Tips

Tips for Reducing Waste at the Office

On average, Americans spend one-third of their day at work. According to U.S. EPA, “the average office worker in the US uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year. That’s four million tons of copy paper used annually.” We should be making environmentally conscious decisions at the office just like we do at home. At Athens Services, we recommend the following 10 tips to help reduce waste at your workplace while saving resources, money, and the environment!

#1 Form an Environmental Sustainability Team!

Form a group made up of employees that would be responsible for designing a sustainability program including: goal setting, planning, implementation, company wide education and compliance.

#2 Create a Preferable Purchasing Policy!

Create a policy that gives purchasing preference to eco-friendly, non-toxic, and recycled content products.

#3 Recognize Good Deeds!

Create friendly competition and incentivize employees or departments to achieve set goals. Create a recognition program, which could include rewards and/ or acknowledgment in company publications.

#4 Provide Reusable Servingware!

Buy inexpensive and recyclable servingware for the office, or require people to bring in their own. You will save money, as well as energy and water used in the creation of a new product. Another good idea is to provide employees with branded water bottles and mugs to encourage reuse.

#5 Minimize Coffee Waste!

Minimize one-time-use disposables; replace foam coffee cups and stir sticks with reusable options. Buy coffee and condiments in bulk versus non-recyclable individual packets or pods. It has been noted by the County of Hawaii Department of Environmental Management that “Americans throw away 138 billion straws and stirrers a year.”

#6 Cut Down on Paper!

Print only when necessary and always double sided. Use at least 30% recycled content paper, keep a “scrap box” near the printer, and invest in desk size whiteboards for jotting down notes. Conduct paperless meetings; use presentations and email copies of handouts in advance. The U.S. EPA states “90% of all office waste is paper.”

#7 Keep Accurate Inventory & Share Supplies!

Keep track of supplies and avoid over -purchasing. Have one central location for supplies. Encourage colleagues to share common desk items (like a stapler) versus buying one for each desk. Create a day where employees go through their supplies and get rid of unused items. Extras can be donated or placed in the supply room.

#8 Donate Reusable and Repairable Items!

Give away reusable and repairable items instead of throwing them away. Nonprofit groups and art programs are often in need of items such as electronics, office supplies, office equipment, fabrics, vehicles, and more.

#9 Compost at Work!

Start a food waste collection program at work. For more information go to the on Athens Services’ Food Waste/Restaurant program section of our website.

#10 Feed People – Not Landfills!

Consider donating leftover, unspoiled food from events and meetings to local food banks or rescue programs. For information on locations, resources and the “Good Samaritan Law” visit the U.S. EPA website.

How To Compost

Recycle Your Organic Material

Composting is the act of turning organic waste into beneficial soil amendment. It is the most ideal way to recycle your organic material and return it back to the earth, and it can be done in your own backyard! We also have our own state-of-the-art composting facility, American Organics.

The Importance of Composting

Composting helps to eliminate organics that are being sent to landfills, it provides a fantastic fertilizer for soil, and helps with water and nutrient retention. For a complete list of how composting benefits “growing success” and the environment, see the American Organics section of our site.

Did You Know…
Compostable organics and food waste fill up 30% of California landfills, contributing to 12 million tons annually? When these organics decompose, they create large quantities of Methane. Most landfills have a gas capture that can collect some, but not all of the Methane that is produced. Methane from landfills makes up 3% of all Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. In California, Law AB 32 sets a state goal to reduce GHG emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020.

 To help reduce sending organics to landfills, we recommend engaging in a compost program. Athens Services has a food waste recycling program that many residential and business locations are able to utilize, depending on the city. Where food waste pickup is not available, we support at home composting to help reduce sending organics to landfills, and reducing GHG emissions in the process.

At Home Composting Resources

Reduce Waste at Home

The following programs provide backyard and worm composting bins, workshops, and tips:
• Smart Gardening Program – LA County Public Works
• Backyard Composting – City of Los Angeles

Athens Services Food Waste Program
• For more information on the Athens Services Food Waste Program, see the section on our website.
• For details on our compost facility, American Organics, see the section on our website.