The Facts: Office Workers & Their Waste Generation

The Facts: Office Workers & Their Waste Generation


From 10,000 sheets of office paper to 500 disposable coffee cups, the average office worker generates a substantial amount of waste every year. Considering the majority of our days are spent in the office, it’s just as important to focus on recycling there as it is anywhere else. Below you'll find the top 5 most used items in the office and how much the average office worker generates:


Let's dive deeper into how much waste is created in the office...


Mixed Paper Products

The average office worker generates about 2 pounds worth of mixed paper products every day and uses about 10,000 sheets of paper each year! 70% of the total waste in offices is made up of paper, but could be much lower. Did you know 30% of print jobs are never even picked up from the printer? Also, 45% of printed paper ends up in the trash by the end of the day! That's a lot of wasted paper.

THE SOLUTION: Paper products can be recycled around 5-7 times, and there are many ways you can reduce your paper usage. Provide a recycling container designated for just paper recycling in copy rooms and next to each person's desk. Lastly, to reduce the amount of paper you use, print double sided and try only making copies and prints when necessary.


Food Scraps

20-30% of the average persons waste in a day consists of food scraps. Typically, people tend to order and buy more food than they need, resulting in a lot of wasted food. The average person throws out about 23 pounds of food per month! Additionally, did you know, 40% of food in the U.S. is never even eaten? The amount of wasted food in the U.S. is pretty significant.

THE SOLUTION: Set up an office composting plan to recycle your food scraps. Compostable items include: vegetable pieces, coffee grounds, food scraps, fruit peels, flower and plants. Also, try only buying food that you’re going to eat, and embrace eating leftovers!



Between bottles, bags and packaging, offices accumulate a lot of plastic. The EPA estimated that in 2003, Americans produced 33 million tons of plastic, but only 9% was recycled. Even though plastic is very recyclable, the continuous growth of all things plastic is difficult to manage. Every hour, Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles, but only 20% are recycled!

THE SOLUTION: Designate a commingled recycling bin for all of business' containers, bottles, cans and jars made of metal, plastic or glass. For those you can't recycle, choose to use durable items instead, like reusable water bottles, food containers, lunch boxes and reusable bags.


General Waste

According to the EPA, the average person creates 4.40 pounds of waste each day. Coffee cups, Styrofoam and thin plastics are among the items that cannot be recycled. Did you know the average office worker uses 500 coffee cups every year? The good news is, there are alternative options for everything your business can't recycle. On the other hand, your company can probably recycle more than you think. It's estimated that 70% of a business' landfill waste can be recycled! Talk to your building supervisor if you're unsure about any items.

THE SOLUTION: Understand the waste your business is creating the most of, and try to reduce it. Try using a reusable coffee cup instead of plastic or Styrofoam cups. Most coffee shops will even offer discounts when you use a reusable mug. Another suggestion is to ask your shipping providers to cut down on unnecessary packaging that's hard to recycle.


Learning how to reduce your companies waste and recycle more is very beneficial to the environment and your company! Need help getting started? One of our dedicated recycling experts can help you start recycling more in no time. Feel free to contact us and leave a comment below!


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