Starting a Recycling Program
There are so many options and venues for recycling at the office that it's a good idea to appoint one person as the recycling coordinator. This could be the same person who conducted the waste assessment or audit, but depending on the size of the business, this doesn't necessarily need to be his or her only responsibility.
This coordinator should be someone who is enthusiastic about recycling and either is already familiar with the company's waste management practices or is willing to jump right in — so to speak. Explain that he or she will be responsible for preparing a plan, educating coworkers, and determining a method for evaluating performance.
It's better to start off recycling only a few items and then adding to the list. Other aspects to consider when preparing a recycling plan are the haulers in your area. Some may come by to collect materials while others may require that you deliver the items to them.
Also, the recycling coordinator will need to decide if it's best to separate the recyclables or comingle them; both methods have their pros and cons.
If the office does not generate a lot of one particular kind of recyclable, it might work best to combine efforts with other offices in the area. Also look into participating in a cooperative that could not only get better prices in purchasing recycling equipment but be the difference between paying to have your recyclables picked up and making money from them.
Among anti-recycling myths is the fiction that recycling is expensive. But there are factors that naysayers don't take into account. Any recycling fees must be compared to disposal costs. Markets for recycling materials (i.e., paper, plastic, and metal) vary, so recycling costs or earnings must be evaluated as a whole, not as individual components.
Smaller haulers may also be available at better rates than larger haulers for taking away materials. If a business is located in a rural area, there may not be an option to benefit from joining a co-op or using a mom-and-pop hauler. In this case, secondhand hauling could be used. When office supplies or another item is delivered to the office, the hauler may be able to take the recyclables to a recycling facility for you. This works best if the truck is usually empty on return trips, allowing the driver room to haul and the potential to make a little extra money.
Some common office items that can be recycled include the following:
Batteries (if rechargeable batteries aren't used)
Plastics and glass
With a successful recycling program under way, it's important to revisit new solid waste practices. Some companies may be able to decrease the size of their Dumpster or the frequency of disposal because of the reduction in the amount of material thrown away.
The Charleston Place Hotel found out firsthand how much money recycling could save. In 2001, this luxury travel destination in South Carolina saved $58,000 through its recycling efforts. In addition, recycling won't just stay at the office or the hotel. Many business owners report that they and their employees practice recycling at home.
As the recycling program continues, make sure to solicit ideas and suggestions from the other employees as to how they think it's working out. Share the problems and successes experienced with the program with them as well. Let employees know if contaminants are making their way into the waste stream and what the impacts from those contaminants are.
The quantities of recycling being performed should be shared along with any revenue generated. Consider donating the revenue to an employee program, such as a scholarship, or to a local charity.