Creating an eco-friendly workplace will not only improve the environment’s health, it can even protect you and your co-workers well-being. By monitoring what you bring into the workplace and how you discard items can save the company money, reduce landfill waste, save energy and help reduce global warming.

Starting with what you bring into the office, you should purchase green whenever possible. Meaning, you should try to choose items made from reused or recycled materials, purchase items that will last longer, and choose energy efficient items. Also look for non-toxic items (especially in cleaning products). Third party certified items are the easiest to identify as green, but with a little research you can still find what you need and be eco-friendly.

As you implement more environmentally friendly policies, you’ll be relying on the people in your office with admin jobs to be stewards. From implementing and maintaining a green purchasing policy, running your recycling program, encouraging best practices like turning off computers at night, there will be a difference between success and failure. Share information related to the problems, progress and success of the company’s program regularly.

It’s vital to keep your employees informed and interested if you want them to take ownership of this new direction. Utilize newsletters or company-wide communications to distribute information like how much you’re actually recycling. Incentivize the program by rewarding those individuals/departments that demonstrate strong participation.

It’s easy to create a recycling program in your workplace, in fact you can do it with four easy steps:

1. Select a Coordinator

In order for the program to succeed, accountability is fundamental. In the beginning, this is particularly true. That is why finding the perfect individual to be the coordinator is crucial.

The ideal coordinator will be:

  • Well organized.
  • Enthusiastic about the environment.
  • A good communicator.
  • Familiar with the company’s caretaker staff, waste haulers or contracts.
  • Experienced in starting, supervising and then maintaining programs.Recycling coordinator is not a time-consuming position. In fact, with participation from employees, one hour a month is all that is necessary to have a successful program. Many times, just asking for volunteers can lead you to the best candidate rather quickly.

2. Determine What You can Contribute

Interestingly, computer paper makes up for over 35 percent of waste. Walk around your office and make a list of your reusable and recyclable supplies and products. By identifying what you will be recycling, you can start to get a feel for the scale of the operation. Take a look at supply cabinets, desks, and the break room. Look for the following items, and anything else you can recycle or replace with greener materials:

  • Batteries
  • Computer paper
  • Computers and accessories
  • Bulbs
  • Metal
  • Inkjet/toner cartridges

3. Choose the Collection Method

Always position containers in convenient places to make it easy for employees to use them. How many containers will you need and how should you separate the products? The separation process is up to you. You can mix them together or separate them. Below are the positives and negatives of each.

Separating by Type: This would require various bins because materials would be separated by type. The bins needed include a bin for paper, plastic, aluminium, etc.

  • Pros: Bins are specific which means higher market value for items like aluminium and environmental awareness is created.
  • Cons: More bins means higher setup costs, you’ll need more real estate to implement the program and the coordinator may find it necessary to sort inappropriately placed materials.

Commingling: Everything gets put together. A recovery facility separates them.

  • Pros: More people participate because it is less time consuming and can easily become habitual. Less admin time spent on the program.
  • Cons: Fewer educational opportunities for staff.

4. Decide How to Haul Everything

  • Drop it off. Look online to find a location.
  • Have it picked up. Pick-up services may require a larger quantity than your business can generate, if they aren’t already visiting your area. So, if you only have a small volume, consider partnering with a neighbouring business.

By Kelly