Small Business Brief


Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: How to Set up an Office Recycling Program

Offices contribute to one of the largest segments of solid waste produced in the American cities.

Many offices generate and discard massive amounts of paper, cardboard and posterboard waste. This has represented between 27 and 33 percent of the waste generated in cities since 2005. 

Luckily, the amount of paper generated on a daily basis has diminished and continues to do so as more and more business processes move to digital storage, transmission, and creation. 

But there’s more to do. Adding a recycling program helps keep otherwise reusable material out of a landfill and in the pipeline of usable materials, where it belongs. 

So, let’s run through how to get office recycling started where you are. 

First Things First

The biggest driver of success with any new business plan is having resolve and commitment from the decision-makers. If there’s a waffling from above on a plan like this, the whole operation is built on a shaky foundation. 

And when opposition to the idea from some managers or employees comes up — and it will — it’s a lot easier for small, vocal critics to push the plan over without defined and stated commitment from top managers. 

The second point of success for all plans is cost. How much will it cost? In more ways than one, a new plan will have physical cost of cash and time but also an intangible political cost in the office. 

Decision-makers need to balance these issues. 

Survey Behaviors and Start Office Recycling There

This the office plan equivalent of meeting people where they are. 

Most employees would be intuitively aware of what they put in their trash. But having them take a quick look at what they leave behind at the end of the day will give you the intelligence you need to make decisions on where to start. 

The odds are that your employees will have three categories of waste in their trash bins: paper, plastic or aluminum, and food.

Once you’ve narrowed down where what the top types of waste are, then you can start your program there. 

Keep It Simple, Silly

Don’t start with several recycling options for different kinds of waste. This is overwhelming and immediately complicates the effort with a high degree of education required to get the right rubbish in the right bin. 

If it’s not intuitive and simple, people won’t participate

Another way to keep things simple is to have everything in the same place: Keep your recycling bins in the same place as your same-day rubbish removal site.

Think About Details 

Be sure to think about as many fine details of your office recycling plan as possible before rolling out your new plans to employees. What will they do? Will they be required to empty their own bins? Will there only be one bin? Who will do the training for the program?

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