-- Quote of the Day --
“Perfect valor consists in doing without witnesses that which we would be capable of doing before everyone.”
~ John Kennedy
-- Recycling Made Easy --
A lot of businesses are becoming aware of the importance of recycling, and may also be aware of how much money they can save with this one simple action – however they may not have efficient systems set up, enabling their workers to participate.
The first step to setting up efficient systems is to fully understand the recycling programs that are available to you. Schedule one of your employees, or a summer student helper, to put in a couple hours of research starting with the city website where links to recycling and reuse programs will be listed. Have a list of manufacturers and suppliers that you tend to use and ask that staff member to find out if any of them have take-back programs. For instance, the printer manufacturer may have an end-of-life program allowing you to return defunct printers back to them at no cost, or the delivery company may accept the pallet or foam packaging that comes with the items you have purchased.
Once you know what can be recycled in your area and any existing take-back programs that are available to you, have the staff member evaluate waste that your business generates and where it is produced. For instance you may have old printer cartridges produced on only one end of the office, whereas batteries might be replaced throughout the office, plastic wrap in the storage room, and returnable drink containers in the cafeteria.
By doing these two simple evaluation steps you can determine where best to locate specific recycling receptacles. You will also need a special collection area for storing the items prior to taking them in or having them picked up for recycling. But there is one more crucial step to this part of your recycling efforts and that is making the recycling program convenient for both employees and clients to use.
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Convenient recycling may require you to place several receptacles for any one item closer to where the employees are. What I mean by this is you might have determined that your business produces a lot of paper waste and you’ve decided to place one large receptacle in the hallway between the front staff and those in the individual offices. There are two problems with that – the amount of time the staff will waste in standing up and walking over to the recycling bin, and the fact that because the bin is located so far away the staff are much more likely to dump the paper in their waste bin. So by locating receptacles in a convenient place near your employees they are going to utilize the recycling system you’ve put in place, and your staff labor hours will be much more efficient.
Another common mistake is to put a blue bin out with a recycle symbol on it and consider the program active. You’ll need to do a couple small additional things to make this work. First you’ll need to use specific signage for each bin so that people are aware of what goes in there. For instance, instead of marking a box ‘recyclables’ label it as ‘cardboard only; flatten boxes prior to placing in this bin’, or ‘paperboard only; flatten boxes and tubes prior to placing in this bin’. Separating items in this way also makes the system more efficient because staff will not have to physically sort the contents.
Then you’ll need to educate your staff - so put up notices in the staff room or bathrooms. Place regular announcements through in-house publications, and discuss the recycling program as it evolves in upcoming meetings. Have a suggestion box available for anyone who notices anything that could have the recycling program run more efficiently. Offer reward programs for staff that are exceptional at helping the business go green. Encourage participation with notices showing how recycling creates jobs and a variety of facts that you’ve gleaned from websites that offer recycling stats.
Be sure to share achievements with your staff by listing the benefits the business has experienced due to employee participation as time goes on. For instance you might realize that in 3 months time you were able to recycle enough waste paper to equate saving one tree from being cut down. Or perhaps the collection bin for returnable containers, old cell phones, or ink cartridges generated $100 in revenue that you were then able to donate to a local charity. An additional bonus, of course, is that any business donations that you make throughout the year will be useful for income taxes – so be sure to choose registered charities that give receipts for donations. Have each staff member suggest a local charity for those funds to be donated to – helping them feel like they are involved in making a difference in the community.
By setting up in-house recycling programs to be convenient you’ll find that more people will participate. When you encourage participation by showing the direct results of those efforts, people will become excited about it and tell their friends – they will also be happier working for a company that cares. It makes a big difference in employee turnover rates when people feel like they matter, are empowered and have a positive impact on their community. The business too will experience better relationships with clients and have a better reputation in their area, because people really do care about what you do. And bottom line – the business will save money in reduced garbage collection costs, reducing the potential of receiving fines for having recyclables in the garbage bin, and increased donation deductions when you file for income tax.
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