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Office Recycling Bins Program

by Jocelyn Broyles (bio)

Published 6/10/11


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Many employees who recycle at home have decided to spearhead a recycling program at their office, but don't know where to start, aside from having the idea and the drive to carry it through. There are several ways to go about instigating a recycling program at your office, but a few key details will make the process run more smoothly and efficiently.

The size of your organization will determine who you approach first with your recycling-program idea, but you'll want to get not only permission from your C-level executives, but enthusiasm and support. In an article on Inc.com, Jennifer Barry, a spokesperson for Earth911.com, stated, "I do think we see the most amount of success in corporate sustainability initiatives when they come from higher up. People tend to respond more strongly when it's coming from the CEO, for example." So get your ducks in a row (this article is a great way to do that), have a plan and start with your boss to get things moving. [1]

If your office is brand-new to recycling, start small with just paper and slowly introduce other recycling options, as too much change at once is likely to scare people off and end your campaign before it's even begun. 1800Recycling.com has a great article on what types of office papers can and can't be recycled, and encourages every office to implement a paper recycling program based on this fact: "For every ton of reclaimed paper, 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space are diverted." [2] Beverage containers can easily come next, as most people are used to the idea of recycling them at home and in public places.

Office Recycling Programs
Your first step to being green...

...is placing recycling bins throughout the office in convenient locations.

Once simple recycling has been established in the work-spaces of an office, it's time to move on to the kitchen or lunchroom area. This is an important place to have recycling bins for paper, plastics and metals, as many food containers can be recycled, including yogurt, milk, crackers, soup, soda and plastic to-go containers. You can help publicize your efforts and at the same time encourage and educate your co-workers by posting signs detailing what types of things can be recycled. Shimar.com offers free downloadable recycling signs, and your local city recycling program may also offer free or inexpensive signage.

Printer cartridges and many electronics or electronic parts can be recycled as well. In fact EcoGreenOffice offers a toner cartridge recycling program called Link360. Whenever you are running low on toner or ink cartridges, you can visit our website to order more, and then contact us to mail/deliver you a return shipping box for your old toner or ink cartridge. You should receive both your new toner and return shipping box within a few days. You can then replace your old toner with the new toner, and mail back the old toner cartridge in the pre-paid postage return shipping box. These boxes are then picked up by UPS and returned to the appropriate recycling center. In addition, the recycling program makes a donation to breast cancer research. This way your office can stay green and you can also help a good cause.

EnvironmentalLeader.com points out that "Training janitorial staff about your recycling initiative by reaching out to building management or the building’s landlord to notify them about your recycling initiative," is a key factor in a successful recycling program.[3]

So now you've got your basics: Get you management on board, start slowly with simple recycling of just paper and make sure you've got your janitorial staff up to speed. The only thing left to do is purchase some standard, blue, paper-recycling containers. The quantity will vary with your company's number of employees, but start off small, with containers placed by copy machines, printers and fax machines. If each individual has their own printer, place a recycling container outside of the group of cubicles. The key is to place them where it's convenient for employees to use them. As the recycling habit grows in your office, you can add containers when and where you see a need for them.

[1] "How to Start an Office Recycling Program" on Inc.com by Peter Vanden Bos, April 30, 2010

[2] "Which Office Paper Products Can be Recycled?" on 1800Recyling.com, by Marina Hanes, January 4, 2011

[3] "Five Steps to Start an Office Recycling Program" on EnvironmentalLeader.com, May 3, 2010

Editor's note: Nearly everything today is recyclable, but in general paper, cardboard from all packaging, and soda cans and bottles should be recycled at every opportunity. Plastic bottles should also be recycled, though offices should refrain from offering plastic water bottles to their clients, customers or employees. Instead, offer a water cooler and have employees and guests use reusable water bottles or glasses. One of our planet's worst environmental problems is plastic in our oceans and landfills that will never biodegrade. Only 20% of all plastic bottles used are actually recycled.