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Many of us consciously recycle at home but are less diligent when we get to work.

However, the workplace is full of paper, plastics and electricals that you can recycle. A large part of reducing your organisation’s waste will be about giving your employees the opportunity to eliminate waste or recycle it.

Do your staff understand how important it is to recycle responsibly in the workplace? They may not be aware of all the regulations that your organisation needs to adhere to when it comes to the disposal of electricals and other products.

The printer should be your first port of call to reducing your waste. Make sure that you have a printer that can accommodate double-sided printing and PCs are set to default to double sided. Think before documents are printed and get used to proofing documents online using readily available editing tools. Take a laptop to a meeting rather than printing a copy of minutes and reports. Keep colour printing to a minimum and only use for the final document.

Ensure that trays are clearly labelled for different paper sizes and headings to avoid wasting paper that has been printed on the wrong size. If paper has been misprinted, don’t throw it away. Have a tray beside the printer for non-confidential papers to be used as scrap paper rather than buying scrap pads. Use online email and to do tools instead of buying sticky notes which are expensive and not recyclable. And don’t forget – the paper that goes in the printer should be made from recycled material! Or perhaps to make all these tips irrelevant, you could become a paperless organisation?

How to help staff reduce waste

  • Make sure you have appropriate recycling and food waste facilities for your employees to use – there should be recycling bins for all the recyclable things you usually have on site.
  • Let your employees know why recycling is important and that what is expected of them. You could include a clause in job descriptions about the company’s commitment to reducing waste.
  • Make sure your employees know what can and cannot be recycled. Paper is easy, but can you recycle kitchen paper, takeaway containers or laminated paper?
  • Ensure the recycling facilities are well signposted and identifiable. Regularly review the containers and refresh signage.
  • Have a staff recycling campaign. Get staff involved and add reducing waste to staff meetings to keep it an on-going commitment and encourage suggestions that will encourage other members of staff to recycle.
  • Set up a reward scheme for recycling or ideas on reducing waste.
  • If you have cleaners, make sure they know how different waste should be correctly disposed of and that they do not line your recycling bins with black bags. Make sure the external bins match the recycling, general and food waste bins you have inside the office.
  • Consider providing staff with a reusable bottle. Re-assess the cutlery and cups you provide for meetings. Can these be reusable and can you eliminate single use plastic cutlery in your business?
  • Remove personal waste bins by desks to encourage recycling. By making staff go to a recycling/waste hub, they have to make an informed disposal of their waste. Although we are not emptying the bins, we are still accountable for what goes in it.