Sustainability typically isn’t a buzzword around the workplace. When employers talk about putting a stop to paper consumption, it’s usually framed around efficiency, such as streamlining business practices and saving money. For most companies, the environmental aspect is considered a bonus.
This is likely because it is difficult to implement green initiatives in the workplace. A hub of concentrated employees who all need to use paper, plastic cups, paper plates, cardboard boxes and who, essentially, need to get their work done, are less likely to be actively involved in the procedures of conscientiously disposing waste.
However, as a business, there are steps that can be taken to either establish, or improve upon, recycling programs. Businesses provide ample opportunity to contribute to the global recycling effort, and cut down on waste across the board. Here are some tips on how to get started:
Invest in containers
The easier you make it for employees to recycle, the more effective the program will be. At the bare minimum, companies should keep a large recycling bin in the kitchen, so employees know that there is a communal space where they can deposit items to be recycled. An even better idea is to invest in a personal recycling bin for each employee to keep at their workspace next to their usual trash can, so they can divide their waste appropriately. If employees have the means to easily recycle, they most likely will.
Enforce the program
Whatever program you implement, you should be prepared to enforce it across the board. If you don’t, employees will likely let things slide. This means holding employees to account when they break the rules, and praising those who you notice go the extra mile with their green efforts. This doesn’t need to be overly punitive – a company email that reminds people of your recycling initiatives when you notice someone not quite keeping up to standards would suffice. If you wanted to, you could award a gift card each month to the employee who made the most noticeable effort with the program.
It can be tricky to know which items to recycle, so put up posters that explain what is and isn’t recyclable. Furthermore, suggest that employees read the packaging of their products, so they know how to properly dispose of an item.
Keep janitorial staff in the loop
Your employees can only do so much if your cleaning crew isn’t aware of your program. This is especially true if another party is responsible for collecting your recycling, which is definitely something your janitorial team should know. After all, you don’t want to go to all that effort of establishing and implementing a recycling program if it fails at the final hurdle (the waste actually leaving your office to be recycled!)
Reuse and Reduce
Remember, recycling is just ONE of the three Rs! A recycling program also provides an excellent opportunity to conjoin your efforts with reuse and reduce initiatives. View your recycling program as part of a companywide effort to improve behaviors. You can do this by getting rid of disposable cups at work, and instead invest in branded glassware or crockery for your staff. If each of your employees had a reusable water bottle, it would encourage them to refill it throughout the day instead of reaching for more cups or water bottles. Plus, it helps in getting your employees to actually drink more water, which is an excellent health benefit for everyone. This goes for paper as well! Consider your company policies, and do what you can to automate and streamline your processes by moving them online so you’re saving on paper.
OpenWorks is a nationwide facility management company, and helps companies improve their results across the country. For more information on how OpenWorks can benefit your facility, view our website here.