Bring a Recycling Revolution to Your Workplace

With every person in the UK throwing away their own body weight in rubbish every 7 weeks, it’s clear we live in a world with disposability at the very centre. Being conscious about its environmental impact is crucial, however, many think recycling stops at home, but it doesn’t!

The same goals can be applied to the workplace. If Amazon, the largest eCommerce trader in the U.S can do their bit for the environment by developing software to streamline packaging and reduce transportation costs and waste, then chances are there’s something we can all do to make our places of work that little bit greener! Here are a few suggestions to bring the recycling revolution at your workplace:


Mapping water use

Don’t get bogged down! Why not consider installing flush devices in your existing toilets. They can save you up to 4 litres per flush and cost as little as £20 to install – makes sense!

Another fitting idea is attaching a tap aerator that controls the flow of water, that either fits onto the end of the tap or can be inserted inside of the existing spout, helping to reduce water consumption. Equally consider fitting electronic taps with infrared hand sensors or self-closing taps, as these will reduce the amount of water used.

Another great way to be efficient is by using recycled paper hand towels in the toilet, they will help to save on energy costs. As well as this, consider replacing hand dryers with newer energy-efficient models which can incorporate timers to help improve energy efficiency.

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Sustainable energy consumption

Break habits and creating new routines by closing windows and doors to retain heat, or even installing draft stripping around windows can help to conserve buildings energy consumption.

Don’t overheat. Keep it cool! Setting the thermostat and air-con on timers can help to regulate energy consumption.

Switching lights off when they’re not in use and using natural light from windows to illuminate the office also helps to cut back on costs!

Paper consumption/disposal

Identify the main areas where paper waste is generated, for example, photocopiers, printers and put recycling facilities next to the source. Remove general waste bins from under desks and provide one recycling bin per six people.

In addition to this, purchasing a more energy-efficient printer can help to reduce consumption. Many have auto on/off the technology, so when it’s not in use, it’s not using electricity!

General waste

Introduce internal recycling bins with numerous receptacles to capture different types of disposable waste.

When ordering food in from caterers for meetings or other corporate events, try to order as much as you need to avoid unnecessary waste.

The wider environment

Carpooling to and from work not only benefits the individual financially but reduces carbon emissions in the atmosphere.

Alternatively cycling to work can reduce emissions. Installing secure cycle shelters outside the workplace, in convenient locations can help to promote transportation alternatives. As well as this, to encourage more of your staff to cycle to work – sign the office up to various annual cycle schemes.

Consider having video conferences instead of traveling to a meeting. This will reduce transport costs and increase your working efficiency by maximizing your time in the office, which would otherwise be spent traveling to your destination.

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How do you set up a recycling scheme at work?

Once you’ve found a suitable contractor for your business and waste type, the next thing to do is engineer how the internal office recycling design will function.

  • Get in a routine. Set up regular collections on the same days each week. Establish with the contractor the logistical reality of your scheme. Suggest a recce of your business premises in advance.
  • Location,location,location. Consider where the internal and external bins are situated to ensure maximum recycling opportunities for your colleagues. Also, consider the health and safety implications of where the containers will be placed.
  • Keeping it separate. To ensure that the segregation of requested recyclable material is efficient, recycling containers/bins must be clearly labeled.

Getting staff involved:

  1. Educate. Host a meeting inviting all colleagues to attend and advocate the benefits of sustainable recycling in a visually stimulating way.
  2. Visibility. Create a bulletin board whether it be a physical or digital one. List on it upcoming targets, goals or changes that are part of the recycling targets/expectations
  3. Incentive. Make it fun by making it a competition, goal, or target-related scenario. If possible offer a small incentive like cinema tickets, a meal on expenses or a bonus.

What Materials Can be Recycled in the Office?

There are so many different materials used within the office environment that can be reused and recycled effectively. Here is a comprehensive list:

  • Office paperwhite high grade
  • Mixed paper – magazines, envelopes, leaflets
  • Shredded paper
  • Cardboard
  • Printer cartridges
  • Cans
  • Electrical equipment

What is the government doing?

The environment as well as the wider community, through government-led initiatives, are benefitting from more sustainable recycling/waste solutions. New approaches to how we interact with ‘everyday’ resources and products are being introduced, for example:

  • The government has introduced a 5p charge for carrier bags, as they are not biodegradable and negatively impact on the environment. This negative impact is felt by both the surrounding wildlife whose habitats are ruined by waste and as well as contributing to a negative aesthetic appearance for residents.
  • In turn, this new legislation has contributed to The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) reporting a very substantial fall in the number of single-use carrier bags, due to the introduction of the charge.
  • We’re all quids in with the new £5 notes. They’re environmentally-friendly because they last longer and fewer will be printed, meaning less energy is used in manufacturing and cash transportation. Also, when it reaches the end of its life it will be recycled. A win-win!
  • In addition, The Department for Transport is responsible for building cycle superhighways in more areas of London, with three major routes planned. This initiative is set to ease congestion and pollution in the capital by making cycling around the city easier and considerably safer, with designated lanes.
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It’s crucial that employers and staff think realistically about the responsibility we all have to run a successful recycling operation in the workplace. Working together and providing the tools that enable staff to recycle quickly, conveniently and correctly is crucial. By educating staff on the importance of recycling and responsible waste management can be the first step on your way to having a green business!

Photo by: bluebudgie

Sonia Madaan is a writer and founding editor of the science education blog EarthEclipse. She loves writing on topics related to space, environment, chemistry, biology, geology and geography. When she is not writing, she loves watching sci-fi movies on Netflix.