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How You Can Start an Office Recycling Program

How You Can Start an Office Recycling Program

Did you know that only about 10 percent of all solid waste in our nation gets recycled?

What’s more is that 9 out of 10 people say they would recycle if it were easier on them (1).

Keeping in mind the value of sustainability, here are 8 steps your business can take to start (or improve!) your recycling program:

1. Share the “why” behind the program

To get people to support any kind of change in your workplace, it’s going to help to share why the issue matters. After all, some people may not know why recycling matters. Or, they may not see how it impacts them. Just a few stats you can share with them:

  • As much as 90 percent of waste that is produced at work, in the average workplace, can actually be recycled (2)
  • The average office worker uses over 500 paper cups per year (3)
  • As a country, we have the highest amount of waste generated per person around the world. The average per day comes in at 4.6 pounds (3)
  • We throw enough trash away on a daily basis to fill up 63,000 garbage trucks (3)

By recycling, we can reduce this waste, conserve resources throughout the world, save energy, protect the environment, reduce landfill sites, and much more.

2. Look at how much you consume to begin with

There are so many areas where we can reduce consumption to begin with. A really effective recycling program, when it’s possible, can first examine where you can cut down on waste in general.

Some workplaces even go as far as surveying what they currently are throwing away (and why).

Here’s a simple example of how you make a switch out based on what you’re currently consuming: maybe you buy bottled water at work for everyone to drink. Instead of bottled water, perhaps you can have a filter that allows people to drink from a tap water resource. In this example, you’re making a switch to immediately cut down on potential waste to begin with!

3. Determine what can and what can’t be recycled

Employee awareness on what can and what can’t be recycled is going to need to be high. Take the time to inform workers on what can and can’t be recycled. It’s a critical step that is often overlooked. If people aren’t aware of what can and can’t be recycled, it’s going to be hard for them to change behaviors.

4. Start small

Focus on one thing to start recycling. So many programs try to do everything at once, but by starting small, you can make sure your program really can withstand your future plans.

One example of how you can start small: start by asking people to use your new system to recycle paper. Most people use paper at work, so it will be a common area that all people can contribute to. Along the way, you’ll get a sense of how the behavior change will take place.

Once you find success in recycling paper, you can move on to larger and more complex objects/products.

5. Make sure someone champions the process

You’re going to want someone who can fully own the process. Think of this as someone who is excited about conservation. They can be your green energy champion!

They need to have authority to spend where needed to get the program off the ground. Be sure they really do have the resources to get the program rolling.

6. Make sure you have top-down support

One of the biggest ways any sustainability issue can fail is where top management doesn’t actually buy-in or show their support. Be sure your people see you “walking the walk” when it comes to recycling. This can make or break any efforts.

7. Have a way to arrange for disposal

Collecting and disposing of the materials you are recycling can be difficult so make sure you have the logistics in place for how that’s happening. It could be a third party service or it could be your waste management company (2).

8. Don’t forget about re-using

One of the biggest factors that could change how your office handles trash and waste may just come down to how workers handle re-using materials. For example, do you ever have plastic forks and spoons that are used to eat lunch? It may seem a little silly at first, but consider re-using that plastic dishware after washing it.

Another example: what do you do for paper towels in the office? In this case, if you use a cloth sheet as a paper towel where you can, you can wash it and re-use it. Over time, you’re really cutting back on trash that would have headed towards the landfills.

One of the major takeaways: yes, you want to have top-down support, and yes, you want to have a sustainability champion (whether or not you call it that). But make sure you do whatever it takes to make sure you share the “why” behind the program—and be sure to make sure it’s as easy as possible for all workers to get involved.

Creating a Greener Company

We design, engineer, install and service leading edge, state-of-the-art green solutions for facilities of all types and sizes. A few examples of our highly efficient, more sustainable solutions include: Energy usage analysis/energy audit; zoning systems; Solar-ready products and installation; Heat pump systems; and Hybrid systems—just to name a few. Give us a call today at 859-491-4915 to ask us about green solutions that could be a fit for your business.


  1. https://www.rubiconglobal.com/blog-statistics-trash-recycling/
  2. https://www.inc.com/guides/2010/04/start-office-recycling-program.html
  3. http://www.johnsrefuse.com/blog/bid/328025/20-Horrifying-Waste-Management-Statistics-and-Facts-About-Landfills
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