California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle)

Waste Reduction Awards Program (WRAP)

Top 11 Questions and Answers

CalRecycle has not offered a WRAP awards application since 2011. This program is not being actively implemented. For information about other business awards programs please see: http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/ReduceWaste/Awards/.

WRAP provides an opportunity for California businesses to gain public recognition for their outstanding efforts to reduce waste. Find out more below.

  1. What are the WRAP awards?
  2. Were the businesses randomly chosen for the award?
  3. How many businesses have received an award?
  4. Can businesses actually help solve California's garbage problem?
  5. What are most businesses throwing away?
  6. What can businesses do to solve the problem of excess waste?
  7. How are businesses actually saving money by reducing waste?
  8. How can businesses get started?
  9. What about recyclable materials?
  10. Does CalRecycle have financial assistance?
  11. How can businesses find out more about waste reduction?

1. What are the WRAP awards?

Established in 1993 by the California Integrated Waste Management Board, now known as the California Department of Resources, Recycling, and Recovery (CalRecycle), the Waste Reduction Awards Program (WRAP) was an annual program to recognize California businesses that have made outstanding efforts to reduce the waste that goes to our landfills. Successful applicants received an award certificate from the State of California along with a camera-ready WRAP WINNER logo and window decal. The logo is suitable for use on products, advertising, and on educational materials to show that the State applauds efforts to reduce waste.

2. Were businesses randomly chosen for the award, or were there specific criteria?

Any California business that had taken effective measures to reduce the amount of waste it generates was eligible to apply. Applicants did not compete by type or size of business, but were judged based on individual merit. There were specific criteria and applicants were assessed based upon whether or not they met these criteria. In order to assess their waste reduction efforts, businesses were asked to provide information about the steps they were taking to reduce waste in their daily business operations, such as incentives for company or employee recycling programs, the reduction of product packaging, and the reuse and recycling of materials in the manufacturing of their products. Businesses were also asked to provide a breakdown of the amount of recycled and postconsumer materials (materials that were recyclable and those that were made from recycled materials) used in their manufacturing process.

3. How many businesses have received an award?

Since 1993, more than 17,500 awards have been awarded to over 4,000 separate California businesses, some for multiple sites, and many multiple-year winners. All of them share the common achievement of waste reduction, and most have one or more employees dedicated to overseeing their waste reduction program. Many of the winners have asked their suppliers to reduce the wasteful packaging on products, while others have even found uses for their discards or unwanted materials.

4. Can businesses actually help solve California's garbage problem?

California law required up local governments to reduce waste by 50 percent (from 1990 levels) by the year 2000 and to maintain a 50 percent reduction level. There are approximately one million businesses in California and they generate nearly half of all of California's waste. If all California businesses took the waste reduction steps WRAP award winners have, there would be a tremendous drop in the amount of waste going to landfills. In fact, WRAP winners in 2000 reported a reduction in landfill deliveries of more than 5.6 million tons! Because of California's shortage of long-term landfill space, many local governments are predicting continuing increases in disposal costs. By reducing waste, businesses are avoiding millions of dollars in disposal costs.

5. What are most businesses throwing away?

Primarily paper, mostly through businesses' daily administrative functions and dealings with customers. But there are other things as well, depending on the size and type of business. It's not unusual for manufacturers and warehouses to have plastics comprise 25 percent of their waste stream. While it is less for retail (8 percent) and offices (6 percent), that is still a tremendous amount of plastic that ends up in our landfills. As another example, in 1991 an estimated 30 million toner cartridges were sold for laser printers and personal computer copiers. Nearly 86 percent of them were used once and thrown away, creating enough plastic waste to stretch halfway around the world. Today, businesses commonly recycle toner cartridges, saving money and reducing waste at the same time.

6. What can businesses do to solve the problem of excess waste? Is it complicated?

There are many simple things companies can do to reduce waste. Businesses, large and small, can easily take measures such as reducing office paper waste, purchasing recycled materials, having landscape wastes composted, recycling glass, cardboard, and plastic. Even batteries, tires, and motor oil can be recycled.

7. Are businesses actually saving money by reducing waste?

Yes, many WRAP award winners report dramatic savings in their waste disposal costs as a result of waste reduction or diversion.

  • Warner Bros. Studios has saved well over $100,000 in garbage hauling fees since instituting a program to donate excess materials and divert others for recycling.
  • A Torrance-based private label vitamin manufacturer reduced its landfill costs by $30,000 in one year by diverting more than 915,000 pounds of garbage.
  • The Fetzer Vineyards in Mendocino County has reduced the company's waste by 86 percent, saving more than $80,000 in disposal fees since 1990.

8. How can businesses get started? What's the first thing they can do?

Conducting waste assessments of their operations is a good first step. A waste assessment involves taking a close look at the waste management system and deciding what could be changed or eliminated in an effort to reduce waste being produced by the business. A very basic assessment, for example, could involve asking these questions:

  • What kind of material is produced as waste and how much is going to be thrown away? Is there a way of reducing or eliminating the waste?
  • Can some of the materials be reused or recycled instead of throwing them away? Is there another business or individual who has a need for them?
  • Is there an employee-incentive program in place to educate employees about waste reduction practices and encourage the employees to apply waste reduction measures to their everyday work routines?

Answering even these basic questions can help any business owner or manager determine a workable solution for establishing an efficient waste management system.

9. What about reusable and recyclable materials? How can businesses locate individuals or businesses that need these kinds of materials?

The California Materials Exchange (CalMAX) is a web portal that lists online materials exchange opportunities.

10. Does CalRecycle provide financial assistance?

Yes, CalRecycle administers funding programs, including grants to assist organizations with establishing convenient beverage container recycling and litter abatement projects, and to encourage market development and expansion activities for beverage container materials.

Last updated: January 15, 2014
Waste Reduction Awards Program (WRAP) http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/WRAP/
Contact: LAMD@calrecycle.ca.gov