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Final Challenge: Start an Office Recycling Program

11/13/12 Pratt Industries

As a conclusion to our America Recycles Day blog series, we pose a final challenge, to implement an office recycling program. When people are asked if they recycle, the amount of hands that go up is increasing.  One of the ways that we can help increase the amount of recyclers and get the habit started is to recycle at work.

Pratt Industries, while looking into what we recycle internally and how to improve that number both in items recycled and in quantity, realized that our program was very site specific.  Due to the regional nature of recycling because of the hauling economics, that made sense.  The benefit, however, of having a team of recycling leaders in each facility has greatly impacted the success of the program.

We developed a program that included items that you would normally think of being in a recycling program AND in the process of brainstorming, items that would not normally be recycled had homes found for them – NOT a landfill.

According to Inc., as much as 90 percent of office waste in the average workplace can be recycled.  But, ramping up your efforts to go green has to start with your employees.  They are the ones who are printing the sheets of paper and drinking the soda cans and bottles of water that often easily end up in the trash can, without much thought.

  • One area to start with is your trash.  What exactly is going into the trash bin?  Can it be recycled?  Does your local recycling company recycle the items you know are recyclable? Start small, though.  If you are trying to recycle 15 items on the first day of your program, there will be mass confusion and a sour taste left toward recycling.
  • Another way to reduce office waste to landfill, is to recycle ink cartridges. What better way than through an organization that gives back? Recycle4Vets, a new, online-based not-for-profit, helps homeless and underemployed vets by recycling cartridges, refilling them and reselling them while turning over 100 percent of profits to those in need. Using the service can save a consumer between 35 and 80 percent over buying an entirely new cartridge, according to the Recycle4Vets website.
  • Start a contest that includes the winning prize being a gift card to a local establishment.  It is amazing how many people feel very strongly about environmental resource protection.  They probably have ideas that they are just waiting to throw out.
  • Make sure that once the recycling program is started, that the janitorial staff that is in charge of the sites is actually placing the paper for recycling in a location where it WILL be recycled.  There was a 20/20 feature 20 years ago about municipal waste haulers driving the recycling right to the landfill.  With the demand for the recyclable materials, that is economically unsupported.
  • Make sure your containers are visible and stay in the same location. If you need to purchase recycle bins for your office, has a great selection! For a limited time, get $25 off your first order!

Recycling is a part of broader workplace programs to encourage sustainable business practices.  Receiving money for recyclable material that was put into a landfill in the past – and avoiding the tipping fees for that landfill delivery – is a sound, sustainable, business practice.

How will you increase your recycling efforts at the office and at home? Please share your ideas by leaving a comment.