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Recycling in the Workplace: How to Reduce Waste

Recycling in the Workplace: How to Reduce Waste

Whether you’re looking to reduce your carbon footprint, or simply want to find more ways to live more sustainably - recycling in the workplace is one of the small steps you can take to help have a positive impact on the planet. Being eco-friendly in the workplace is important all year round, but it’s particularly poignant during ‘Earth Month’. 

From ensuring your waste is placed in the correct bin for recycling, to investing in reusable kitchenware - we have got you covered with some of the best ways to reduce waste in the office.

What is Recycling?

To put it simply, recycling is a process where materials are collected and processed into new products, rather than being sent to landfill. 

It is hugely beneficial for the environment, helping to reduce the amount of materials produced, as well as lowering energy usage and conserving resources.

There are a number of different materials that can be recycled, including:

  • Paper/cardboard

  • Cans

  • Glass

  • Plastic

  • Clothes 

  • Batteries/electronics

  • Wood

  • Metal

We all use a number of these materials in everyday life - especially at the office - so what are the benefits of recycling them, rather than simply throwing them away?

What are the Benefits of Recycling in the Workplace?

You might be wondering why recycling is important in the workplace. According to a recent study, the average office worker generates 2kg of waste each day, which includes 0.9kg of paper-based products, as well as using a mammoth 156 plastic bottles and 10,000 sheets of paper every single year. That’s a lot of waste going into landfill if recycling isn’t an option, which can have a huge impact on the planet.

Aside from the impact on the planet, some of the other main benefits of recycling in the workplace include:

  • Reduced waste management costs/landfill tax

  • Attract and retain talent 

  • Improved company reputation

Attracting and retaining top talent is important for any business, but having a strong emphasis on recycling could actually help to pique the interest of new workers. In fact, research has found that over 50% of the UK’s workforce state that sustainability is an important factor when considering working for a new company.

In addition to this, the reduced waste management costs and the potential to improve the reputation of the company make recycling in the workplace could have a hugely positive impact on the business as a whole.

How to Promote Recycling in the Workplace

When it comes to recycling in the workplace, it’s all very well to have processes in place, but it’s another thing to convince your colleagues to use them. However, we’re on hand with some of the best ways to promote recycling in the workplace to get all of your staff members on board.

Make it Easy

One of the most simple ways to encourage recycling at work is to make it as easy as possible for your staff.

That means ensuring you’ve got the right bins for each material and making sure they’re easy to access over general waste bins. Providing people with the right tools could be all the encouragement they need to recycle in the office.

Offer Training 

A 2021 study found that one of the top barriers to recycling across the world was people not knowing how to participate in recycling programmes.

In order to remove this barrier in the office, it’s important to provide your staff with effective training so they know exactly what to do when they’re recycling at work.

A simple company-wide training session, along with sessions when onboarding new starters is one of the best ways to promote recycling in the workplace and ensure all of your staff members know what they’re doing.

Incentive Schemes

Rewarding your staff for recycling can be one of the best ways to encourage them to recycle whilst they’re at the office. 

Whether you implement a ‘recycler of the month’ scheme, or run challenges with prizes - such as an early finish - on offer, a little healthy competition might just motivate your staff.

Practice What you Preach 

When it comes to encouraging people to recycle at the office, one of the most important strategies you can  implement is to practice what you preach. 

Firstly, it’s imperative that all senior staff members recycle their waste when possible in order to set an example for other employees. However, you could also go one step further by investing in office furniture made from recycled materials, to really hammer home the recycling message.

Additionally, if the budget allows, branded kitchenware may help to reduce waste and encourage recycling. By providing all members of staff with their own - or easy access to  - reusable mugs, plates and cutlery, you can help to reduce waste even further - especially when it comes to those morning coffee runs.

How to Reduce Paper Waste in the Office

With the average office worker using 10,000 sheets of paper each year, reducing paper waste in the office is incredibly important. 

Some of the easiest ways to decrease paper usage are:

  • Implement a ‘think before you print’ policy 

  • Use e-signatures for documents 

  • Remove dedicated desks and implement hot desking

  • Encourage paperless note taking 

  • Invest in online cloud storage

Not only can a reduction in paper waste benefit the environment, but it can also contribute to reduced business costs, with less paper being used overall. However, easy access to paper recycling bins is still imperative, to ensure that any paper being used is recycled.

How to Reduce Food Waste in the Office

According to research by Wrap, the government’s waste reduction agency, 6.7 million tonnes of food is wasted each year. Although this doesn’t all come from offices, it’s a huge amount of waste, so taking steps to reduce food waste in the office is as important as it is at home. 

Aside from the financial impact of food waste, it also has a huge impact on the environment. In fact, it’s estimated that food waste is responsible for around 8% of greenhouse gas emissions and uses around 250 km³ of water every year.

So, what steps can be taken to reduce food waste at the office? Some of the best ways include:

  • Be mindful when ordering for a catered meeting or get people to pre-order

  • Offer leftover food from catered meetings to those in the office

  • Provide a ‘community shelf’ in communal areas for food sharing

  • Encourage people to bring lunch from home (this will also reduce plastic waste)

  • Ensure food is stored correctly at the office by providing fridges/freezers

  • Let staff know when to expect ‘treat days’, such as pizza, so they don’t bring their own food

  • Donate to local food shelters

Simple steps to reduce the amount of food wasted in the office can help to contribute to a more sustainable office environment overall. 

Here at Bruntwood, we’re dedicated to creating the most sustainable workspaces possible, with the target of operating at net zero carbon by 2030. One of the ways in which we hope to achieve this is by working with our partners to send zero operational waste to landfill and encouraging recycling in all of our spaces. Get in touch with our team today to discuss your requirements and find the perfect office solution for you.

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