We all know why recycling is a great idea but there are understandable barriers in human nature to getting initiatives going in the office: it takes a bit of planning to start them and a bit more effort and mindfulness to sustain them.
Ambitious long-term recycling goals are often fine but if you don’t announce what they really are, but rather, break the challenge down into smaller achievable steps, each of them can be celebrated across the organisation for their progressive success.
So here are five tips for starting a recycling programme that won’t run out of steam.
Set up a Green Team to brainstorm the logistics whilst remembering that it’s something everybody will have to participate in to make it a success. Get your Green Team to meet periodically but have a rotating chair in those meetings for other members of the office to takes turns, join in and provide feedback.
Conduct a Waste Audit to get a baseline on how much and what types of rubbish the office produces. This information will help you measure progress, decide on the recyclers you’ll be working with and will indicate where to put your initial efforts for the most impact. Then create a plan which details what the initiative will cost, or hopefully, save, who is going to take the lead responsibility, the types of recyclables and how often they will be picked up.
Remember to include a Green Purchasing “precycling” policy from the outset wherever possible. In many ways this passive element has the most impact for the least effort, but make sure to share its success with the whole office team as part of the motivational feedback.
Create a Recycling Awareness and Programme Launch Day. This is your opportunity to get everybody on board, make it part of the company culture and communicate that it’s fun as well as virtuous! This is also the day the new recycling bins are deployed in convenient locations with positive messaging that explains and motivates everybody to use them on a regular basis. Optimal bin placement affects whether people use the new bins properly, so find the most likely areas for waste generation and convenient disposal.
Once you have a recycling system in place it’s necessary to remove as many “general waste” bins in the office as possible – particularly the personal bins under individual staff desks. The best way to do this is to make it the responsibility of each member of staff to hand it over and provide some positive feedback/reward to having made this contribution.
Recycling schemes in the office are worthwhile and important but they sometimes mean cutting across departments and areas of authority. It’s important to make sure everybody is on board and motivated to make the initiative succeed as a group. Good luck!