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How to Recycle at Work Effectively?

In this article, we will discuss the importance of recycling at your workplace and what steps to follow in order to successfully implement this practice in your company.

Why Should You Recycle at Your Workplace?

The reasons are many, let’s start from the most important ones:

  • Reducing the waste which goes to the landfills and pollutes the air and soil
  • The change in your office will lead to many of your employees to start recycling more at home as well
  • Save from waste management costs.
  • Improve your brand image by being a greener business.
  • Improve the work output of your employees by creating an environment which follows the latest trends of protecting the environment.
  • Create possibilities for positive PR exposure in the media
  • Save space and reduce clutter in the office

Where to Start?

The first step of implementing a recycling system at work is to perform a waste assessment of the types of waste that your workplace generates most. Usually, the most common waste offices produce is paper – documents, cardboard or other paper-made packaging.

However, depending on the type of business and department you manage, other types of waste are: Paper in the office that can be recycled

  • Food and drink cans or other metals
  • Obsolete or broken electrical equipment
  • Plastic bottles, packaging and other plastics
  • Organic waste

9 items that you did not know are recyclable

After you know the quantities and types of waste you produce each month you can decide on what types of rubbish bins you need.

Types and Design of Recycling Bins

The placement, design, size and purpose of the recycling bins in your workplace play a major role in reaching the maximum recycling rate at your workplace. There are different factors you must take into consideration when choosing where to place the recycle bins. These are the two most important things to consider:

  • Where each type of rubbish is produced (and therefore place a recycling container near it)
  • The health safety of your employees. Contamination and making sure your workplace is kept clean and healthy is your number one priority when it comes to waste management.

The common choice of colours for each type of recycling container is:Four main colours of recycling bins - red, yellow, blue and green

  • Recyclables – Yellow
  • Rubbish – Red
  • Food, organics – Lime Green/Burgundy
  • Paper/cardboard – Blue

For more detailed information on where each waste type goes you can read this page by the Wigan Council.

If you do not have a big budget to use for the change to recycling at your workplace, there are various ways you can save a few bucks, here are a few:

  • UDIY recycling bins - labelsse old bins you have or buy cheap ones with the same colour and use your own labelling on them.
  • Set in a scoring system where employees can help with recycling on their way out of work or during breaks, or in any other way. Those who perform best can earn various small prizes like a free lunch or a title “Employee who saves the Planet” etc.

Communicating and Training your Employees

The most important part of introducing and successfully implementing recycling in your workplace is to successfully communicate why, how and what your employees would have to do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis in order to reach the highest results.

Did you know: Offices that use desk-side recycling bins recycle 20% more!

Keep in mind that it is common for employees to be sceptical about any change in their workflow that gets them out of their comfort zone and presumably creates more work for them.

To make your employees feel comfortable with recycling, focus on the benefits that recycling provides for the environment, your office and how it eases their work.

In order to involve your employees in the recycling process, organise trainings where you explain the basics of reusing, reducing and recycling and how all of these help in reducing the negative impact we have on the environment.

Office training on recycling strategyTo make the learning process easier and more pleasant, place information boards or any other useful information near locations in the office where staff gathers during small breaks so they can easily view them whenever needed. For example, you can motivate your employees to recycle at work and at home by providing them with recycling ideas which can save you some bucks or make awesome toys from recyclable materials.

Don’t forget to communicate the changes in waste management with your cleaners and janitors as well. They will be the ones who take care of emptying the recycling bins and taking care of the recycling of each type of rubbish.

Set Goals and Plan Monitoring

Set up small goals and a clear plan on how to reach them the first month. This is the test pilot phase for you, so focus on monitoring and improving instead of on the success of reaching its goals.

Find the most suitable internal communication channel to regularly inform your employees on any changes or updates to your recycling strategy. Ask your HR department and even the internal marketing employees for ideas on how to ensure a fluent communication so there is no extra tension or obstacles to the normal workflow in your company.

Constantly inform your employees on the successes of your recycling efforts and let them contribute with ideas on how to improve your strategy.

Did you know: Offices with centralised recycling bins recycle less than those with desk-side bins which reduced paper waste close to zero.

Final Words – Be Creative When Thinking About Recycling

Introducing a recycling scheme at work can be an exhausting and time-consuming action. Keep an eye on the positive outcomes for your office and most importantly, the environment!

Reusing, repurposing, recycling and conserving energy can be achieved in numerous ways, from small to big actions like using a reusable grocery bag to turning the lights and your computer off when you leave and office.

Always keep an eye out for new ways to reduce the negative impact you have on the environment.

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