If you’re an ardent recycler at home, there’s nothing worse than watching your co-workers toss paper and soda cans into the trash because your office doesn’t have a recycling program. But don’t get discouraged; following our step-by-step guide, you can set up an office recycling program that can both conserve the planet’s resources and save your organization money.
1. Get management buy-in
You can’t have a successful recycling program if the higher-ups aren’t on board.
To get the support of company management, explain the many benefits that recycling can offer your organization: It can save money by reducing garbage bills, give your company a marketing edge as a “green business” and boost employee morale.
2. Appoint a recycling coordinator
Your office’s new recycling program will need a leader – or recycling coordinator – to see the initiative through – from start to implementation.
As an employee who is enthusiastic about recycling, you can serve as the recycling coordinator, or you and a team of interested co-workers can work together to set up the program. Or it may make sense for the person already responsible for overseeing the custodial or garbage contracts to add the recycling program to their list of job duties.
3. Audit your waste
To determine what types of materials you’ll want to include in the recycling program, you’ll need to conduct a waste audit – but don’t worry; that doesn’t mean you’ll have to dig through your gross, stinky garbage.
You can perform a visual waste assessment: Walk through different areas of your office – copy rooms, break rooms, conference rooms and loading docks – and observe the different kinds of waste materials generated. You’ll probably see paper, cardboard, cans and bottles, but you may also see pallets, packaging peanuts or electronic waste.
4. Plan collection
Once you’ve figured out the types of waste materials your office produces, you’ll need to see what can and can’t be recycled through local waste management companies.
Ask the company that picks up your office’s garbage if it also provides recycling collection services. If your waste hauler does not handle recyclables, search Earth911’s recycling directory or a phone book for local recycling companies. You can also contact your city to see if it has a recycling coordinator on staff who can help you find outlets for your recyclables.
Once you’ve chosen one or more recycling companies, order outdoor recycling bins from Recycling Supply or Recy-CAL and plan your pick-up schedule.
5. Start small
Start your new recycling initiative with a pilot program, collecting only one or two recyclables. Focus first on materials that your office generates in large quantities and are easy to recycle locally like paper or cardboard.
Once your program is up and running smoothly, you can include more recyclables like cans and bottles; eventually, you can set up a collection system for special materials produced occasionally like electronic waste or batteries. Adding one recyclable at a time allows you to troubleshoot any challenges that arise with the new program – problems with custodians, recycling companies, employee education or otherwise.
6. Educate your co-workers
To show that your organization’s executive leadership supports the program, a high-level manager should send a company-wide email to announce the program’s launch. Managers should also introduce the new program during staff meetings (perhaps screening the hilarious office recycling video above).
When you distribute recycling bins for each employee’s work station, take a minute to explain the new recycling program to him or her.
7. Monitor the program
Congratulations – you have successfully set up a recycling program for your office! But you can’t just sit back and relax; you’ll want to monitor the program to make sure it’s running smoothly.
Every few months, conduct another visual assessment to see if staff is tossing recyclables into the garbage or vice-versa. Ask your garbage and recycling companies to provide you with tonnage or volume reports to show you how much material your office has been sending off for recycling and garbage.