Marriott Corp., which began recycling office paper in March, now is turning over nearly 18 tons of waste paper a month to a recycling company and expects to start making money on the program by sometime next year.
Marriott is part of a wave of corporate recycling that comes in response to both threatened regulation, higher costs for waste disposal and a change in American attitudes toward garbage.
A recent survey by the International Facility Management Association found that more than 75 percent of the corporations and other organizations that they polled have initiated recycling programs and that most of those are making money on their efforts. In addition, the survey found, the companies expect to increase their recycling efforts over the next five years.
What is happening at Marriott is consistent with the survey finding. Aileen H. Aderton, manager of administrative cost control at Marriott's Bethesda headquarters, said she began studying recycling about a year and a half ago. "At that time the climate in the industry was you didn't have to worry about that," she said.
This year, however, with the 20th anniversary of Earth Day, with mounting support by employees for the notion of recycling and with Montgomery County raising its fees for dumping solid waste and contemplating corporate recycling regulations, Marriott moved.
So far the company, which employees about 5,000 workers at its corporate headquarters, is only recycling office paper, but Aderton said the company is considering recycling other materials, too. Collections are averaging 15 tons a month and increasing, she said. Although the program is voluntary, Aderton estimates that the company is getting 80 percent participation in sorting waste paper by type by employees.
The paper is collected by U.S. Recycling of Hagerstown, Md., and sold by them to the Fort Howard Paper Company, which is heavily marketing recycled paper products. The company also is the one from which Marriott buys most of its paper products for its restaurants and hotels, said Aderton, "so we feel like we're completing the loop."
Marriott's original savings projections for the program, which were that the company would save and make a combined total of $80,000 have turned out to be too optimistic, however, she said. Instead the program may save and earn about $40,000. Once the program turns profitable, Marriott plans to donate the earnings to charity, Aderton said.
So far Marriott's recycling has not extended beyond its headquarters, but the company's divisions are also looking at recycling programs.