Keeping Trash from Going to Waste
How green is your office? Contrary to what you may think, becoming more environmentally sound isn't difficult or expensive. Start by enhancing what you recycle. According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), an incredible 80 to 90 percent of solid waste is recyclable. But you have to begin with the folks who are actually generating those individual bottles of water, cans of soda and scrap paper: your staff. Follow these nine simple steps to launch a successful office-recycling program:
- Get up close and personal with the trashcan. You may not want to be this cozy with what's being thrown away, yet it's the only way to know which products are recyclable. Ask your building management or municipal waste management company for a list of the items they recycle. It may also be posted to their website.
- Start small. Don't overwhelm employees with an extensive email detailing every recyclable item and all the benefits of the program; you'll overwhelm their go-green circuitry. Start with a brief overview of the plan, and a few actionable suggestions that make it easy to comply.
- See the forest for the trees. The average U.S. workplace generates one to two pounds of paper product waste every day, according to the EPA. It's not just letters and proposals, either: disposable coffee cups are a major culprit. The average worker uses up to three throwaway beverage containers daily. As an environmentally aware company, Impact Absorbents has been committed to the 4Rs of environmental impact (Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) since our inception 22 years ago. Wherever possible, our spill containment and spill clean up solutions are made from recycled material, so you're being doubly responsible by using a non-toxic, ecologically sound product that's already been recycled.
- Follow guidelines scrupulously. As you move into larger recyclables such as computers and other electronic equipment, be sure you adhere to local and state regulations as well as EPA standards.
- Appoint a recycling program coordinator. Select someone whose enthusiasm for sustainability makes him or her a natural choice to oversee the program, and who possesses the drive and initiative to both plan the program and see it through.
- Start at the top. Like all initiatives, a company-wide recycling program will be more successful with executive buy-in. If the staff sees the CEO recycling her coffee cup (or better yet, using a ceramic mug), they'll take their cue from this behavior. And if you keep spill clean up solutions such as an XSORB Spill Station with Long Broom in strategic locations (lunchroom, break rooms, meeting room, hall closet) your team will know you put green spill clean up where your mouth is!
- Nail the details. Place clearly labeled recycling bins in places they're most likely to be needed: copy rooms, break rooms, cafeteria, and near printers and copy machines. Consider instituting incentives to motivate participation.
- Arrange for disposal. If your building management doesn't handle this, you may need to contract with an outside service. Be sure the workers are trained, as well: if the maintenance crew tosses the separated recyclables into the same bin as trash, your effort will be wasted.
- Expand your sustainability efforts. Once your recycling program becomes part of your company's daily activities, look for other ways to reduce and reuse existing products, which will not only shrink your carbon footprint, but can also save your business money. And that's the greenest reward of all.