Veronica’s Guide to Greening and Recycling at the Workplace

– by Veronica Miles

The Environment is a Priority for All of Us

So is our economy. Recycling actually supports both of these priorities. It’s more than just bottles and cans. Besides reducing the use of landfill space and greenhouse gas emissions, recycling creates jobs, builds markets and supports local industry. Show your support for this important goal by setting up recycling in your office. All it takes is some right steps, consistency and passion.

Appoint a Recycling Coordinator

Although recycling is a team effort, appoint one staff member to keep track of all of the details. This way your program will run as smooth as possible.

Reduce & Reuse

The first step towards Zero Waste is reducing the amount of waste created and reusing instead of disposing. Printing only when necessary and encouraging reusable coffee mugs, cups and plates among other waste reduction techniques will also save your office money.

Assess

  1. Research what waste and recycling company serves your office building or space.
  2. Contact that company to find out exactly what materials they accept for recycling and how these materials should be separated from other waste.
    Example: plastics, aluminum and glass might need to be kept separate from paper and cardboard. Other companies may accept all recyclable materials together. Each company is different because they use different types of recycling facilities.

Implement

  1. Place recycling collection cans throughout the office next to every trash can.
  2. Every recycling can needs a sign listing what items can be recycled. Try using images and large words, and attaching the sign so it is easy to read.
  3. Meet with any staff who will be responsible for emptying the collection cans. If recyclables need to be placed in a separate dumpster or cart, make sure the staff knows how to handle the different bags of materials.

Communicate

  1. Inform the staff about the office’s recycling goals by making an announcement during a meeting or sending an email. Let them know what exactly can be recycled and where to find the recycling cans. Use positive encouragement to let them know that everyone in the office is on the “Green Team.”
  2. Put up very clear signs about the recycling efforts. For example: “This Office Recycles. Thank You for Participating.”
  3. Tell everyone in the office that the Recycling Coordinator is the point person for any questions.

Sustain & Celebrate

  1. After setting up recycling in your office, keep up with making sure cans and signs aren’t displaced or damaged over time.
  2. Monitor your success. Your waste company may be able to provide recycling reports. Notice how your signs are being followed and make improvements if necessary.
  3. Celebrate your achievements as a team! Nominate recycling champions, or simply thank your colleagues for their extra efforts.

© 2012 Veronica Lee Miles. Veronica is an Independent Filmmaker and Environmental Consultant. After earning her BA from the New School, where she specialized in Science, Technology and Society, Veronica interned on TV and film productions, then trained with the City of New York in sustainable practices. She then returned to her hometown of Los Angeles, where she was brought onboard to launch the startup EcoSet Consulting, LLC, a company that led the way in laying the groundwork for the “greening” of film and video productions nationwide.

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