Do you ever feel like you are out of ideas when it comes to enhancing your recycling program? We often find that many businesses we engage with are making efforts to improve their recycling efforts, but they are missing important elements of a successful program. If this sounds familiar and you are not receiving the results you would like, read on to learn about seven important elements that any successful recycling program should have.
WHAT YOUR RECYCLING PROGRAM MAY BE MISSING
1. A TEAM OF ECO-AMBASSADORS / GREEN TEAM
Sometimes the simplest yet most effective way to enhance a recycling program is to establish a team of Eco-Ambassadors. An Eco-Ambassador Team (or Green Team) typically consists of a group of 5-10 employees who are responsible for monitoring and enhancing the recycling program. Activities include but are not limited to brainstorming new ideas, setting goals, spreading awareness, and reporting on the program. The best part of this role is that by making small changes in the workplace, the Eco-Ambassadors can motivate the rest of the office to make responsible changes that end up making a big impact! If this sounds like something that could work for your business, learn how to create an Eco-Ambassador team here.
2. AN UPCYCLE STATION
The old saying "one man's trash is another man's treasure" has never been more relevant. Chances are, some of the supplies or equipment that are being thrown away in your office may still be useful. To keep these materials out of landfill, many businesses designate an area in the workplace as an Upcycle Station. All you have to do is set aside a shelf or closet for collecting and storing the supplies. Encourage your colleagues to add anything - from staplers, to file organizers, to coffee mugs - to the Upcycle Station when they no longer need them. Also make it part of your business' procurement process to have employees check the Upcycle Station before purchasing new supplies!
3. STRATEGICALLY LOCATED CONTAINERS
This tip has become one of our golden rules of recycling. Strategically placing your recycling containers maximizes employee buy-in and participation. Sometimes we see businesses place their recycling containers in areas where people are not likely to make a special trip to discard their recyclables. Make recycling easy for your staff by staging your containers in locations that generate high amounts of waste. Creating a waste map like the one below can be helpful for visualizing high traffic areas and determining where to place the containers.
4. ORGANIC RECYCLING
Organic recycling could be what your recycling program is missing. Composting is a great option for businesses who are looking to reduce waste and money. It works by keeping your heavy food waste out of the trash, lowering your recurring monthly costs. Not only is it good for your business' bottom line, it's beneficial for the environment too. The EPA explains, "Every year in the United States, approximately 31% (133 billion pounds) of the overall food supply is wasted, which impacts food security, resource conservation, and contributes to the 18% of total U.S. methane emissions that come from landfills." So instead of sending your food waste to landfill, you can compost it to save your business money, and help create a healthier planet. Learn about our composting services for businesses here.
5. EMPLOYEE TRAINING & EDUCATION
Training and education are the most important parts of a recycling program. Chances are, your business is always growing and hiring new talent, which is why it is crucial to hold regular company-wide training sessions. Not only are these training sessions meant to educate new employees, but to remind all of your employees about their responsibilities as well. Here are some effective ways to help train and educate employees, new and old:
Lunch and Learn: Present or demonstrate the specifics of your recycling program during lunch!
Memos: Describe your business' recycling program, its goals, and your staff's responsibilities.
New employee orientation: Educate all new employees about the recycling program and their responsibilities during their orientation.
Q&A session: Give your colleagues the opportunity to ask questions about your program. Their questions can help the key decision makers identify what parts of your program are working and what needs improved.
Walk-throughs: Walking through the recycling program can be an effective learning experience for your colleagues.
6. BIN STANDARDIZATION
If your business struggles with high contamination, standardizing and color-coding bins, signage, and stickers can help to eliminate it. This strategy keeps your program consistent and makes it easier for your colleagues, visitors, and cleaning staff to recycle correctly. The color-coding system, featuring stickers and signage in specific colors, designates which streams should be recycled in specific areas, helping to increase recycling rates and raise awareness.
7. A WASTE AUDIT
The purpose of a waste audit is to help businesses analyze their waste streams and identify the types of waste and associated volumes they generate. Usually completed over a week, your team will collect and store all the waste and recycling materials your business generates. The data will reveal the current state of your waste operations and identify opportunities to recycle more and reduce landfill waste and operational costs. If you are interested in conducting a waste audit, then download our Guide To Conducting A Waste Audit here.
Has your business ever implemented any of these tips? Let us know which ones have worked in the comments below. Or, if you would like to learn how we can help your business recycle more for less, get in touch with us today. Our recycling experts will work to help your business achieve its goals while saving you money. Thanks for reading!