Start an Office Recycling Program
Learn How You Can Implement an Office Recycling Program
We spend a lot of time in the office - for many of us, it’s over 8 hours a day. So it should not be a surprise that proportionately speaking, offices generate much more waste than you may think. Learn why you should start a recycling program at work and how to go about setting one up.
Why start an office recycling program
- As much as 77% of all office waste can be recycled.
- Paper makes up the majority of office waste (enough to build a 12 foot wall from New York City to Los Angeles).
- Office workers toss about 500 disposable cups annually.
- US consumers and businesses dispose of more than 400 million electronic units annually that are filled with toxic chemicals and heavy metals harmful to the environment.
- A business that increases recycling in turn reduces their disposal costs, making recycling a healthy financial and environmental choice.
The cumulative impact of all this trash is a a lot of energy, resource, and landfill space waste that’s expensive for your business and the planet. Setting up a office recycling program will help to improve your green corporate image, reduce your operational costs, provide jobs for thousands of people, and shrink your carbon footprint. Now that’s a good return on your investment.
Basic steps for recycling at work
Getting an office recycling program up and running for your business can be simple or complex depending on the number of employees you have and the level of bureaucratic red tape you have to clear. Regardless, here are the basic steps you’ll need to follow:
- Get support: Most importantly, you should get support from the powers that be to implement your office recycling program. While this can be the first step along your work recycling journey, it can help to have the waste audit complete before you go to the higher ups in order to have statistics to back up your desire for setting up a recycling program.
- Conduct a waste audit: A waste assessment or audit is a way to measure just how much trash your business produces and what types of waste it is. This is important information for determining the kinds of recycling handlers you’ll need to work with and where to focus your efforts for maximum impact.
- Find recycling facilities in your area: Depending on the size of your community and the level of green interest from local industries, you may have several dozen recyclers from which to choose or only one. Identifying those that serve businesses should be your first step, then determining which provides the best service for your particular recycling needs at the most reasonable price will be next.
- Produce a waste reduction plan: Perhaps the most important step in setting up an office recycling program is to develop a comprehensive plan based on all of the information you’ve collected so far. Here you’ll lay out the costs, personnel responsible, capacity, types of recyclables, location of recycling stations, types of containers used, frequency of pick-up, and so on. Be sure to include plans for how to prevent waste first - precycling is one of the best ways to reduce waste before it starts. A green purchasing plan is always a good place to start.
- Launch and promote your recycling program: Get your plan in action! Start with a publicity campaign to educate employees and then get to work at reducing your waste. Always be sure to monitor how much is being diverted so you can show tangible results.
- Measure progress and publicize your successes: Reporting back to your office the successes is important to keep up morale, encourage additional participation, and maintain management support (financial and otherwise). Setting up benchmarks and measuring successes is therefore very important.
Office recycling program guides
We’ve covered all of the basics for setting up an office recycling program. If you want to dig deep and get started, check out these comprehensive resource guides that include questions to ask recyclers, how to conduct a waste audit, where to finding recycling centers in your area, how to promote your program, and steps for measuring results:
- A Guide to Waste Audits and Reduction Workplans for Industrial, Commercial and Institutional Sectors - Ontario Ministry of Environment and Energy
- How to Set Up a Recycling Program - US EPA
- Office Waste Recycling - City of Fort Collins
- Recycling and Waste Management Business Plans - Bplans.com
- The Sustainable Office Toolkit - Georgia Department of Natural Resources
- Waste Audit Tool - Race Against Waste
- Waste Prevention and Recycling at the Office - CalRecycle
1 Office Waste - Recycling. (n.d.). Retrieved June 28, 2010, from City of Fort Collins: http://www.fcgov.com/recycling/officeguide.php2
2 Waste Facts and Figures. (n.d.). Retrieved June 28, 2010, from Clean Air Council: http://www.cleanair.org/Waste/wasteFacts.html
3 (Waste Facts and Figures)
4 The Problem With Electronics and E-Waste. (n.d.). Retrieved June 28, 2010, from Electronics TakeBack Coalition: http://www.electronicstakeback.com/problem/problem_index2.htm