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Starting an Office Recycling Program

As much as 90 percent of office waste in the average workplace can be recycled. Here’s how to get started.

Companies everywhere are ramping up efforts to go green, but sustainability starts with your employees. They’re the ones printing the sheets of paper and drinking from cans that often easily end up in the trash can, without much thought.
In the average workplace, about 80 to 90 percent of solid waste is actually recyclable, establishing an office recycling initiative won’t just reduce your carbon footprint, but it could also save your business money. Here’s how to get started.

Getting Started – Waste Audit

Ready to get up close and personal with the trash can? The first step to setting up an effective recycling program is to survey your workplace, and figure out exactly what’s going into the trash. Then, you can figure out which products are recyclable and which ones you want to include in your workplace recycling initiative. The easiest way to do this is by reaching out to us – Wecyclers, asking them exactly what they recycle and what they don’t.

Though up to 90 percent of office waste in the average workplace can be recycled, in the beginning, it generally makes sense to start small.

Paper products are a typical place to start. Beverage containers, too, are a no-brainer; most workers go through as many as 3 a day.

A few months after you launch your program, as employee participation and awareness increases, you can move onto other, larger recyclable objects, such as ink cartridges, computers, and other electronics.

Whatever you decide to recycle, you’ll need to appoint a coordinator – Recycling Champion to oversee and organize the program. This person should ideally be someone who is enthusiastic about sustainability and willing to help plan and see the entire recycling initiative through.

Encouraging Participation

Even if you’ve found the perfect program coordinator, a successful recycling initiative needs to come from the top down in order to motivate employees to participate. The most amount of success in corporate sustainability initiatives when they come from higher up as people tend to respond more strongly when it’s coming from the CEO, for example.”

Nailing the small details will go a long way in getting people to recycle. Be strategic about your placement of recycling bins. They need to go in places where the most trash is generated, like copy rooms, near printers, break rooms, and in cafeterias. They also need to be easily identifiable, with clear signage indicating they are for recyclable materials only. (Make sure to specify which material goes into which bin.)

Besides handy bins, another way to encourage employees to participate is consistent communication. Make sure every worker in the office is aware of the program and its goals. Track progress in public by counting up recycled materials, and let them know what they’ve helped to accomplish so far. You might even try adding incentives or rewards.

Training Staff

You can do everything you can to educate employees and make it easier for them to contribute, but don’t assume the rest of the parts you can’t see are going to do it the right way too.

It’s essential to reach out to your building management or your landlord to notify them of your recycling initiative, so they can make sure janitorial staff are on the same page. Your office complex might even already have a recycling program in place, making it easy to take advantage of what’s already available.

The potential for a successful recycling program balances on the employees who are producing office waste. You need an ongoing education program that lets them know the details of your program, and what they can and can’t recycle.

Arranging for Disposal

One of the most important parts of the process is deciding how to collect and dispose of the recyclables. There are many different types of paper products, like printer paper, magazines, cardboard, and construction paper. You can separate each specific type, which can make your recyclables more valuable if you’re disposing of them at a Wecyclers Recycling Exchange drop-off centre or a pickup by the Wecyclers team and could increase employee awareness about the specifics of recycling.

For businesses located in Lagos, Nigeria we offer recycling services and are responsible for waste disposal. For other businesses located out of our coverage area, contact whoever takes care of your waste to arrange for proper disposal and pickup of whatever materials you recycle, too.

You may have to hire an outside service. This will depend on the size of your company, as many commercial recyclers require a particular volume of waste that could be more than your company generates. Consider partnering with other companies, hiring smaller companies, or arranging to drop off recycling at drop-off centres.

Taking More Steps

Recycling programs are often only a smaller part of a broader workplace program to encourage sustainable business practices. Especially if you’re looking to save on costs, combining your recycling program with an effort to reduce office waste and reuse existing products can be a smart business strategy. When you’re auditing what goes into the garbage, you might realize that you’re wasting a lot of paper. Try to find tasks that could be paperless or products that could be reused.

Recycling, reducing, and reusing doesn’t have to stop in the workplace. Adding an extra dimension to the program definitely increases the overall awareness

Take action today, contact us to start recycling in your organisation.

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