A huge portion of the country’s waste paper comes from offices, so starting a company recycling program is a great way to reduce waste and encourage environmentally conscious practices. This could even be a selling point to potential employees who want to work for an environmentally-aware company.
Here’s a look at strategies to get you started.
- Start small. If your municipality offers single-stream recycling, then you may not need to worry about separating cardboard from plastic or glass. But if your recycling must be separated, then your employees may get overwhelmed by separate receptacles for paper, soda cans, plastic containers, compost and more. Start with paper—which likely makes up the bulks of your company’s recyclables anyway—and once employees get into the habit of recycling paper, add additional receptacles based on your company’s recycling needs. If your company uses a lot of printer ink, you might recycle ink cartridges. Or if your employees drink a lot of soda, consider bins for recycling cans (or put a soda-maker in the break room, so they can make their own soda without piling up disposable cans).
- Make it easy. Some staff members are unlikely to recycle if it requires a hike down the hall or to another floor (though on the other hand, more zealous recyclers might even take recyclables home if their office doesn’t support recycling!). Remove this potential obstacle by placing recycling bins in easily accessible areas. Some companies even place a paper recycling bin at every employee’s desk so it’s just as easy to recycle paper as it is to toss it.
- Get employees (and others) involved. Employees who are passionate about the environment can champion the program to their colleagues or even serve on a recycling committee to discuss recycling plans. Employees who aren’t as gung-ho about recycling might need more encouragement. Consider incentives such as a friendly competitive where the department with the least amount of trash over a given time period gets a prize. Or reward everyone with a pizza party with the proceeds from soda can recycling. But don’t assume the materials you gather for recycling will magically migrate to the recycling plant. In an Inc. magazine article, Seth Goldman, founder of Honest Tea, mentions how janitorial staff combined recycling and trash into one bag until he notified them of the company’s office-wide recycling program. Some buildings already have recycling programs your office could use.
- Show appreciation. Thank employees and reinforce positive behavior on a regular basis. You can do so through your company newsletter or create a monthly or annual award for employees who go above and beyond in recycling efforts. If you can quantify the amount of material you’ve diverted from the trash (so many pounds of paper, for instance), that’s a great stat to share with employees or in press materials.