Keeping up the Recycling Habit

Business Insights

While at home during lockdown, and with so much focus on the environment, many of us were been careful to recycle as much as possible, and, if the queues at recycling centres were anything to go by, took the opportunity for a thorough clear out!

Back to our place of work, and all those good habits go by the way. Domestic collections that require us to sort our refuse into types and into appropriate containers, make recycling relatively simple, but the majority of work places don’t have separate bins for recycling, just a bin each under our desks into which everything is dropped.

It can be tricky for small businesses to develop a good recycling scheme but there are a few simple steps that can work for any size of business.

Firstly, take a leaf out of your local authority playbook and offer separate containers for recycling, even if you just start out with separate containers for paper and plastics. To encourage your employees to recycle you need to provide the resources for them to do so, plenty of central bins and more specific bins, such as paper bins, in places where they will be used the most, such as having a paper bin near a printer. You should also remove any under-deck general bins since staff will likely use these as their default refuse disposal container and not segregate their waste in order to salvage recyclable material.

Many businesses have conducted waste audits to discover what office waste recycling opportunities their businesses might have. These audits can throw up some surprising results. For instance, you might find that your office produces a lot of cardboard waste from lunch delivery boxes meaning you might need a larger cardboard recycling bin on your business site.

Speaking of lunches, you need to do your best to encourage staff to choose lunch options which produce the least amount of waste. Fish and chips, for instance, is often wrapped in greasy newspaper and comes in a polystyrene container. Neither of these materials are easily recycled and will likely not be accepted by your waste collector as recyclable material. Encourage less wasteful lunches, by offering better office kitchen facilities and crockery or by educating your staff on more environmentally conscious lunchtime choices.

Also, if your employees are still using single-use plastic water bottles or are bringing Starbucks takeaway coffee cups into your business every day, provide reusable water bottles and coffee cups with your company branding on them. This will not only reduce the amount of non-recyclable waste coming into your office but will boost morale and team spirit.

Obsolete electrical equipment, such as printers, computers and monitors, even phones may well carry sensitive company and personal data, so must be disposed of with an eye to your organisation’s duties under GDPR and in accordance with the WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) regulations, which aim to contribute to sustainable production and consumption.

This type of waste contains a complex mixture of materials, some of which are hazardous. These can cause major environmental and health problems if the discarded devices are not managed properly. In addition, modern electronics contain rare and expensive resources, which can be recycled and re-used if the waste is effectively managed. Investigate accredited local companies who will dispose of this waste for you safely and securely.

However, even if you have all the done all the right things as a business owner by actively taking charge of your office and electrical waste recycling, it will all be for nothing if your staff are not on-board. You need to communicate your aims to help them to understand what you are trying to achieve. Explain about your new recycling measures and encourage them to be part of a forward-thinking team who are proud to recycle at work.

However, it’s all well and good having an efficient office waste recycling scheme in place and collecting all your recyclable material in your office bins, but without a waste collector who can take your recyclable material then you’ll still be stuck with your waste. You need to pick a reliable waste collector who can take your recycling and ensure that it goes to the correct waste treatment facility so that your efforts aren’t wasted.

Having an external company manage your waste disposal and waste collection not only saves you a lot of time and stress, it can also help you save money and reach your green goals.