How to Establish a Recycling Program at Work


Hopefully you are recycling at home. After all, most local governments make it easy by providing bins or carts for the recyclable materials you generate at home. But what about your workplace? What does your recycling program look like at your job location? Maybe you do not have a recycling program and would like to implement one.  

First, select a Recycling Champion at your office. Trust me, there is one in every office! This is the person who will be the point person for the program.

Next you will need a waste audit to determine what is in your waste stream and what can be recycled or reused. Your local solid waste hauler and/or recycling collection company can help.

Local governments determine which items are going to be recycled in your area so check to see what materials they include in their recycling program. Common materials include plastic bottles, tubs and jugs; aluminum and steel cans; and mixed paper and cardboard. I bet these items are being used in your office too.

Now you need to determine what types of recycling bins you will need. Small offices need just a few recycling bins strategically placed next to trash cans making sure that it is just as easy to recycle as it is to throw something away.

Consistent signage reminds people how to quickly sort their recycling, reduces contamination, and increases recycling rates. Signage alleviates confusion which is one of the largest issues with recycling. Contaminated material can send an entire load of recyclables to landfills and renders them non-recyclable. Strategically placing signage near or on receptacles can mitigate confusion. If you need help with signage, go to www.WM/recycleright  for samples that you can download and use. 

Education is the best way to encourage employees to recycle. Use signs, displays, email announcements, and/or text messages to teach them:

  • WHY they should recycle
  • WHAT they should recycle
  • WHERE they can recycle

Make sure that all employees, including the C-Suite, know about your recycling program. If you are in a larger office complex, make sure janitorial staff is aware of the program so they can collect recyclables separately from the trash. 

Establish a recycling collection service and the proper recycling only dumpster separate from your trash dumpster.

The key is to start small. Do not make extensive changes all at once. Establish, attainable goals that you can implement over time.

Create a recycling culture! Motivate and encourage employees, business partners, and consumers to build and establish a culture of recycling. Without stakeholder buy-in, a recycling program would just be a “waste.” Know your audience and make sure you keep them informed and up to date about your recycling program. 

Want to learn more? The Florida Recycling Partnership Foundation and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection are holding a Business Recycling Webinar on August 2  from 10 – 11 am. Mark your calendar to learn more about how you can implement a successful recycling program in your workplace.

Join us to learn more about business recycling. 

Keyna Cory is the Executive Director for the Florida Recycling Partnership Foundation


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