Getting rid of old office furniture? Just completed a building demolition? Buy way too much of a particular industrial chemical? In all of these cases, you’re probably tempted to get this “junk” to the landfill as quickly and as inexpensively as possible. But paying to landfill otherwise good material isn’t just bad for the environment: it’s also bad business. Why pay to ship your business waste away when you can sell it, or give it away for a tax write-off?
As landfill space has decreased, and tipping fees have increased, smart businesses look for more economical ways to dispose of the materials they no longer want or need. The commercial materials exchange serves this market with something like a B2B Craigslist: an online space (at the very least) for listing materials your business no longer needs that may still have value for another company.
5 Different Types of Materials Exchanges that Can Put Your Business Waste to Use
For-profit and non-profit, government-sponsored or privately-owned, the materials exchange comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Many are nothing more than websites; others can warehouse and sell materials. The EPA maintains a listing of these organizations; after browsing through the list, I noticed several trends in exchange types.
1. The Construction Materials Exchange: Got excess materials from a job, or waste from a renovation or demolition? No need to rent a dumpster – lots and lots exchanges exist for construction materials. The Habitat for Humanity ReStore may be the most well-known, but many states have a variety of exchanges dealing in building supplies.
2. The Educational Supplies Exchange: It’s a shame that teachers often have to go begging for classroom materials, but several organizations around the country have made it easier for them to find what they need… often sourced from businesses who have excess materials like pens and notepads. The Clark County Public Education Foundation Teacher EXCHANGE in Las Vegas, Nevada, is one such example.
3. The Medical Supplies Exchange: No doubt they’ve got to be a bit more picky about what they’ll accept, but there are several organizations that accept and distribute unused medical supplies and used medical equipment. InterVol in Rochester, NY is one such non-profit.
4. The Office Furniture Exchange: Unless you took a sledgehammer to your company’s old desks, filing cabinets, shelving units, and cubicle walls, they’re probably perfectly useful for a small start-up or local business looking to keep expenses down. Kansas City’s Surplus Exchange maintains a warehouse full of gently used office furniture.
5. The Industrial and Commercial Materials Exchange: A catch-all term for materials used in all sorts of manufacturing and industrial processes, this kind of exchange keep some pretty nasty stuff out of the environment, and in the plants and factories where it belongs. Check out Cincinnati’s Interchange for an example.
Have you taken advantage of one of these exchanges to acquire or dispose of materials? How’d it work for you? Let us know what you think…
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