Workplace Waste Reduction
Ever wonder how much waste material and energy consumption you and your co-workers generate at work every day? A very easy solution to discovering the answer is to set aside one day and make sure that all trash bins are empty at the start of the day. Have all employees go about their regular business and at the end of the day take stock of what kinds of materials are in the trash bins and in what quantities. Also make note of the use of electrical appliances, air temperature, and lighting use. At the end of the experiment did you notice lots of paper waste that should be in the recycling bin? Were many appliances and computer left on after everyone went home for the day? Is there any one location in the office that generates more trash than another? If your investigation shows that your workplace is generating a high amount of waste, here are some easy steps that you can try to help promote recycling, re-use, and reduction:
Make sure the office printer can handle double sided printing and set computers to print in this manner by default. This will cut back the amount of paper you need to use by close to half.
Some documents need to be printed in hard copy but not all. Encourage employees to only print when it’s absolutely necessary. Important documents can also be saved to a computer reduce the need for file cabinets and physical storage space.
Do you offer your employees a kitchen or break-room? Turn off all non-essential appliances such as a coffeemaker or microwave at the end of the day. You’ll be surprised how much your energy bill will fall as a result.
Monitor energy use during the workday and set heating and cooling temperatures at reasonable levels. If your office staff is wearing heavy sweaters in the office during summer months you know you’re wasting money!
Encourage employees to carpool, use public transportation, or bike to work. You’ll help them to save money on transportation costs and be seen as an environmentally friendly employer.
The best way to facilitate change in the workplace is to have involved employees. Many employees are aware of the benefits of recycling but starting the habit isn’t always easy. If you want to have the best possible results from a workplace waste recycling and reduction program, start with an office-wide announcement to all employees about the importance of recycling and energy reduction. Let everyone know where designated recycling bins can be found and what should go in them. If you’re making changes in energy usage, convey the new rules and expectations. Encourage all employees to get in the habit of stopping and thinking about the trash in their hands before they throw it into the garbage can. Can this item be recycled, re-used, or donated? Electronics waste such as computers can often be donated to appreciative charitable groups and there are many community centers that will gladly accept and re-sell unwanted construction materials or office furniture.
By giving your co-workers time and encouragement, and carefully monitoring progress and savings, your workplace will come to make reuse and recycling a habit. Within a year you’ll be pleasantly surprised by both the environmental and bottom-line changes.
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