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Formalizing your office recycling program is often a great step forward in creating a more sustainable business and company.  An official recycling policy can guide employees and demonstrate a sense of commitment toward sustainability in your business.  Writing and distributing an office recycling policy document is highly recommended. It serves a variety of purposes including communication, training and policy governance. It also provides a strong foundation for the creation of a prominent sustainability culture within the office.

Green Business Bureau Recycling Policy Template

Green business bureau provides an example of a recycling policy to its members. If you are a member, you can log in to your account to see the template that we created for you to be able to use directly in your own organization. If you are not a GBB member and interested in utilizing this office recycling template as well as the various other resources we provide to our members, feel free to browse our membership option here.

Different Uses of an Office Recycling Policy Document

One aspect you may want to consider prior to drafting your office recycling policy is how you intend to primarily use it or what specifically you want it to achieve. You have the option to make it a general document or create multiple specialized versions that address each potential usage category. The primary categories of usage are as follows:

1. Policy Training

Many organizations see the need and the overall value of creating an office recycling document tailored to an employee training application. This can apply to both new hires and existing employees. The intention here is to clearly define, explain and showcase the expected behaviors. This primarily includes providing an easily understandable list of items/materials that are acceptable in the recycling stream(s). As discussed later in this article, one can determine the right approach to this aspect via information or training from the local waste management organization. In the meantime, here is a useful slideshow that can be used to educate employees on the what, why and best practices necessary. Even more paramount to the success of a training policy is the locations of bins and instructions on how to properly recycle. As with every office recycling program, concise and eye-catching labeling is a must.

2. Recycling Education

The educational aspect of a recycling policy is similar to the training and can typically be conjoined together, but specifically the main purpose is to educate the employees on the benefits of recycling and best practices within the workplace to reduce the amount of waste created in the first place. Take a look at this list of 10 methods to reduce waste before it’s created.  It is beneficial to provide more details into the intent of the document pertaining to company culture, what the goals are and how these are expected to be achieved.

3. Assessment

Assessment is a critical component in the continuation of the pursuit of sustainability. A formal office recycling policy can provide a valuable benchmark to continue improving on. When utilized as an assessment tool, you have easy access to all of the programs that are currently being engaged and documentation on what is not being recycled. Creating a  list of acceptable “landfill” items can provide a base for your target materials list. Using this recycling facility locator you can select a material that you produce and search for specific recycling options or location within your area.  You can also check out the unique recycling services of one of our great GBB members, G2Rev.  They provide solutions for aerosols, batteries, electronics, hazardous waste and even cover K-cup composting and plastic film recycling.

4. Governance

Among the many uses for an office recycling policy, it serves as a reference for governance of a company’s official current policies.  It can be used for reporting as well by providing an online version to showcase to investors, employees, partners and customers. This provides a validation to interested parties that you take your commitment to operating a sustainable business seriously enough to put your claim online. The most beneficial method to showcase your general commitment though is through a 3rd party green business certification.

Office Recycling Getting Started Steps

1. Contact A Local Waste Management Firm

Your first step should be researching the recycling company services in your area and specifically what types of services they offer. Depending on your municipality, the acceptable materials, pickup methods and collection methods may vary. Some firms offer a contact person to assist in getting these steps started. They may offer a site visit to ensure you have the  correct amount and sizes of bins for the volume of material you produce, provide employee training, provide labeling materials and assistance in establishing other areas of the program

2. Start Small

When first implementing the office recycling program, many sustainability champions can be overzealous and introduce too many facets of the new program. This can crush momentum due to regular employees attempting to participate but becoming overwhelmed and ultimately avoiding the recycling process. Instead, develop a plan on how to begin and start with one or a few common items like drink containers or paper products.

3. Recruit Volunteers

If you are able to find any like minded individuals that are passionate about recycling and promoting sustainability within the company then you will be better positioned to engage the rest of your organization with the recycling policy. These individuals can assist in the education, supervision and further development of the office recycling policy. In addition, their insights from other departments can be helpful in cross collaborating to finding new and unique sustainability solutions.

4. Discuss and Showcase Benefits with Management

The benefits of a formal office recycling program may be obvious to some but oftentimes we find that others simply are not aware of the all around benefits that can be realized. These extend beyond the environmental benefits and into the business and financial benefit realm as well. Take a look at this article that explains the various benefits associated with creating an office recycling policy. Also, don’t forget that many of the materials you produce can be sold and create an entirely new revenue stream, if your volume is high enough.

5. Research Unique Recycling opportunities

As mentioned previously, there are many ways to recycle the materials that your municipality will not accept. There are many avenues to pursue in this area and some can provide a significant source of revenue although factors such as the volume created, pickup/transport costs accessibility to bailers or the types of materials you have in excess can come into play. There are many unique organizations that offer a turnkey recycling service and can oftentimes accept all of your material ultimately pushing you closer to a zero waste to landfill accomplishment.

Sam Harris

Author Sam Harris

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