In April, Earth Day was recognized around the country. Having the Mall of America, one of the world’s largest and well-known shopping centers, in our backyard provides an interesting glance at how such a complex operation can find profit in what once was a cost center: recycling.
An EPA case study (pdf) notes that Mall of America “is considered a model of commercial recycling.” The current system in place has evolved from the early days of the mall, more than 20 years ago. The facility was designed for recycling before construction even began. Separate trash chutes for cardboard and other waste allow for a basic sorting by tenants, who have provisions in their leases requiring recycling.
With more than 40 million visitors annually, it is easy to imagine how quickly trash piles up at the mall. Interestingly, if you visit today, you won’t see recycling bins next to trash bins. Why? Because mall staff found that trash would inevitably end up with the recycling – instead, all of the trash is manually sorted in a recycling center before leaving the mall. In all, MOA recycles more than 60 percent of its waste – an average of 32,000 tons per year. (more…)