This article is written by Roger Green, CEO of Brightwaste Office Recycling, who provide eco-friendly recycling services in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Office recycling can be a chore. Recycling paper, plastic bottles, batteries, computers and ink cartridges can be inconvenient.
You have your meal deal lunch at your desk. You know you can recycle the plastic bottle, but you’re not really sure about the crisp packet and the half-cardboard half-perspex sandwich wrapper.
Or, you use the microwave to heat up a meal, but then hesitate about the black plastic tray it came on.
You need to get on with your work, so you just find the nearest bin, throw it all in and focus on more pressing matters.
But here’s the thing. The Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012 state that all businesses have to recycle. By law, you must present metal, plastic, glass, paper and card separately for collection, and any food business producing over 5 kg per week has to put out food waste for collection.
The Scottish government has set a 70% target for recycling, and the pressure is increasing for easy, instinctive recycling systems. Your office recycling cleaning company should help and encourage you to do the right thing.
The 10 Point Office Recycling Plan
So, here’s the 10 Point Office Recycling Plan from Brightwaste for all businesses who want to do office recycling correctly.
1. Understand the benefits of recycling. Recycled waste costs about 25% less than general waste. Why? Because recycled waste does not have an inbuilt landfill levy. Instead, the waste can be sold as a commodity and this discounts the collection costs.
2. Set a recycling target. We recommend that you align with the government target of 7 bags of recycling waste for every 3 sacks of general waste.
3. Get great bins to help you. Brightwaste can supply FREE recycling bins and FREE recycling advice for your office. Sometimes this will take the form of neat cardboard bins. Sometimes really smart, airport-style bins for segregated waste.
4. Do away with bins under desks. 20 years ago every office had desk bins. Now 60% of offices use central bins, often reducing their office cleaning costs. Place the recycling bins strategically around the office. Keep them in areas where most of the waste is generated such as photocopying, meeting and breakout rooms, as well as cafes.
5. Get free help. Ask your waste company to come in and talk to your staff. Brightwaste Office Recycling offer this service for free.
6. Launch and promote your recycling initiative to staff. Hold a launch event to share the value and objectives. It’s worth including helpful (and humorous) messages using posters and stickers with gentle reminders on the benefits and desired outcomes.
7. Motivate your staff by linking recycling with valued charitable causes. Electronic products like PCs, laptops and mobile phones, as well as ink cartridges, can be donated to charities. Redundant office furniture can also go to charities.
8. Discuss and agree the collection strategy with your waste company. Kerbside collection or car park collection? And if car park, what size of bin suits? Make sure you’re not being miss-sold a bin that is too big for your needs.
9. Obtain data from your waste company. Ask them for a carbon report to show comparatives on your recycling between any 2 dates.
10. Lastly, find ways to reduce your waste and recycling output before it hits the bins. A creative team review will allow you to find more ways to reduce waste so that you don’t have to bin it: print less and on both sides; reuse plastic containers; maintain and upgrade computers to extend their lives.
How to turn recycling into a mission
You may not know that methane is produced in landfill from biodegradable waste, and methane is 23 times as potent as a greenhouse gas compared to carbon dioxide.
You may not be aware that making new products from recycled materials requires much less energy than manufacturing from virgin materials. For example, recycling aluminium into new cans needs 95% less energy than processing the raw material, bauxite ore, into aluminium.
If you get the recycling basics right, it doesn’t need to be a chore. Instinctively you will learn what to recycle and what not to.
Eventually you’ll find that the cost savings are not the motivation. It’s not even the fact that you are legally compliant. It’s simply the fact that you know you are doing the right thing for the environment, and you are doing it well.
If you genuinely get your staff on board, you’ll turn recycling into a mission.
Ask Brightwaste Office Recycling for a free recycling review.