December 5, 2023

Recycling Metrics That Matter: Tracking Progress and Improving Efficiencies

In an era marked by escalating environmental concerns and an urgent call for corporate responsibility, businesses grapple with the challenge of deciphering the intricate landscape of sustainability metrics. It is imperative for companies to meticulously trace their ecological footprint, particularly concerning greenhouse gas emissions and contributions to landfill waste. As we navigate this critical juncture where environmental consciousness intersects with corporate strategy, the question arises: How can businesses effectively measure and enhance their sustainability practices for a greener, more responsible future?

Sustainability initiatives within businesses undeniably contribute to environmental well-being. 23% of 2021 greenhouse gas emissions came from industrial practices according to the Environmental Protection Agency, excluding electricity production. To lessen this negative environmental impact, businesses must provide insights and analytics on how their enterprise does or does not contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Landfills alone in the United States are the third largest emitters of methane, a greenhouse gas, according to the EPA. In the United States, only about 5% of 51 million tons of plastic waste was recycled in 2021, according to a study from Greenpeace, meaning 95% ended up in landfills. The EPA estimates that around 75% of all waste is recyclable, yet only 32% of waste in the U.S in 2023 is recycled, indicating that a majority of recyclable materials currently end up in landfills. It is the responsibility of companies to ensure that their products are sustainable to protect the environment from greenhouse gasses emitted from landfills.

It is a common misconception that sustainability is expensive. Businesses benefit from tracking waste metrics on not only an environmental scale by preventing landfill greenhouse gas emissions, but a monetary scale, making the endeavor not only feasible for profit margins, but desirable. It has been shown that consumers prefer sustainable companies and products. According to a 2017 Cone Communication corporate social responsibility study, 88% of consumers will be more loyal to a company that supports social or environmental issues. More than half of consumers would pay more for sustainable products designed to be reused or recycled, according to Accenture. Therefore, companies have reason to increase their sustainability efforts not only internally, but externally on a product level. 

Businesses have two different ways of tracking progress, metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs). Metrics look at the performance of specific processes, while KPIs track progress towards the most important goals for a business. Metrics usually reflect the industry standard, while KPIs are set by respective businesses for their specific goals. KPIs can indicate whether recycling is generating revenue or costing money. Plus, once the products are in consumers’ hands, it might seem impossible to track metrics on recycling at the end of a products’ lifecycle. Innovation and technology are key in providing recycling metrics once the product is in the consumers’ hands. However, tracking metrics and KPIs can be simpler with technology and innovation.

Companies that combine high levels of innovation along with sustainability and trust outperform their industry peers, with 3.1% higher operating profits and greater returns to shareholders, according to Accenture. The global market for green technology and sustainable development is expected to grow from $11.2 billion in 2020 to $36.6 billion by 2025, according to a report from 2022. Technology can help companies increase efficiency in tracking metrics, and provide metrics to track. Software as a service is one form of technology that can help achieve these metrics and tracking procedures for products at the end of their lifecycle. 

CIRT is a software as a service company that answers the question, “Can I Recycle This?” for consumers, while providing valuable insight and analytics for businesses on their products. Mitigate risk, stay up to date on local, state & national recycling regulations, keep track of packaging attributes for compliance, logistics, and marketing purposes, and recirculate packaging material for bottomline savings by diverting valuable materials from the landfill with CIRT technology. Our suite of tools empowers you to understand and improve your packaging footprint for people, planet & profit. Learn more about gaining recycling metrics that matter for your business by visiting our website: