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Recycling Tips for Business Owners or Employees

-Costs add up surprisingly fast when running a business. Today, as people become more and more environmentally conscious, businesses are discovering that solid waste reduction, rather than waste disposal, can help to save money as well as benefit the environment. Rather than just focusing on waste management, business owners are now becoming concerned with recycling, reusing and waste prevention. When properly informed, employees can also help to reduce the amount of waste created each day in the office.

Steps for Beginning a Waste Reduction Program in the Office

1) Employee Involvement

Getting staff to be involved and participate in the program is necessary for success.  Each employee in the office should be trained and educated on the importance and various methods of solid waste reduction. Education cannot be a one time occurrence, but must be ongoing with the program. Along with training, motivation is important too! Emails, posters, letters and contests are just a few methods of getting the employees enthusiastic about the program.  

2) Gain Approval from Management

Support from those in management is necessary for the implementation of the program. Management can be informed of all program changes and ongoing policies so that they can in turn inform the employees. They can also lead by example with program commitment.

3) Choose a Team and/or Leader

The solid waste reduction program will thrive if there is a team or a leader in charge of it. This can be accomplished regardless of office size. If the office is small and requires only a few employees, select one willing leader who will be enthusiastic about the waste reduction. If the office is larger, a team of employee volunteers can be selected. This team or leader can go between the management and employees and even be in contact with the recycling vendors. 

4) Understand your Waste Stream

You must understand what you are throwing away before you can focus on recycling or reducing that waste. This task can be done by looking in company garbage bins as well as the dumpster. A more detailed waste investigation may be needed, requiring that the garbage be sorted into categories and analyzed more specifically. Weighing and measuring each category can be helpful. The more the waste is analyzed, the more it is clear what items the office needs to focus on reducing or reusing.

5) Make a Plan

Once the company waste stream is understood, a plan can be created. Several options will be considered, including:

            -what can be recycled and what can be reused?

            -can different products be purchased that are repairable and create less waste?

            -can products made from recycled materials be purchased?

Many more questions may need to be asked. Management and staff should ideally be involved. Staff members can help give more ideas and suggestions, while management can help make the necessary changes in policies and purchasing.

6) Put the Plan into Action!

Implement the plan. If your plan involved many major or complex changes, introduce them gradually and include staff education along with those changes. A few steps can be started immediately, and the office will adjust to the initial changes.

7) Adjust as Necessary

After the program as begun, those in leadership should be committed to reevaluating. Are goals being met? Is the program effective? Keep records and document every new product and vendor to establish effectiveness. Make staff aware of any changes and let them know why. Adjustments can be made as often as necessary, but not so often that they become tiresome to employees. Always be sure to keep the office up to date on the success and progress of the program.


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