Tips for Smart Office Recycling

Feb. 21, 2012
Even though 80 to 90 percent of the solid waste generated in your office is recyclable, many offices could step up their recycling efforts. According to EPA, not only do such efforts save money, but they can help reduce the carbon footprint of a company.

Doug Berjer, product manager for CFR, which manufactures eco-friendly carpet cleaning systems, offers several office recycling tips to help facility managers expand their office recycling programs.

“The first step involves simply surveying the trash,” says Berjer. “Determine what is going in the trash and what can be recycled. Ask your trash collecting company what they will and will not recycle.”

From here, Berjer’s recycling tips include the following:

· Make it a top-down decision: The most effective recycling programs are those that are deemed necessary by top management; staffers tend to respond more strongly when the message is coming from the CEO.
· Appoint a recycling coordinator: Select one person to be in charge of the recycling program; this person not only overseas the program, but also champions sustainability in general and recycling in particular.
· Start small: Initially, suggesting 20 different things to recycle might be overwhelming for office personnel; start with a few things and build from there.
· Build on the “no-brainers”: The recycling “no-brainers” are paper, pop bottles and soda cans. Estimates are office workers go through three beverage containers a day.
· From here, add ink cartridges, glass, packaging materials, old computers, light bulbs and other electronics. (Some state and local agencies have regulations on how electronic items are to be recycled.)
· Recycle water: Not only are consumables recyclable, but so are natural resources such as water. Place containers on roofs or around the facility to gather rainwater to water office plants.

Some companies take it even a step (or 12) farther. “Some offices even have staffers that are ‘worm wranglers,’” says Berjer. “They have containers housing worms that eat office food scraps – coffee grounds, banana peels and so on. As it passes through the worm's body it forms compost, turning waste into the life-giving ingredients to grow new life.”

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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