May 21st, 2008 by Jurga Galvan
Recycling in the office has become more important in recent years as waste overall has become an increasingly difficult environment and economic problem.
The first option to recycling in the office is waste reduction. Decrease consumption and reuse items rather than throwing them away. Everybody has to be involved, but if recycling is to be effective in the office then something has to be done from the top levels of the hierarchy.
Employers could conduct some kind of recycling audit to identify what, where and how waste is generated. This can then lead them to pinpoint areas that they can improve upon.
The office should also reduce the amount of disposable products that are used in the office. Long life products may be more expensive at the outset but they will cut down on waste and could even save money in the long run. Everyone needs to be involved in the recycling and waste minimization process; employers may wish to communicate their values to their employees to make sure that everyone is pulling together.
In order to set up an effective office recycling scheme you may wish to:
1. Communicate the plan to everyone involved including staff, management and the merchant that is to take the waste away.
2. Consult with everyone involved to ensure that all aspects of the scheme have been discussed.
3. Cooperate with everyone involved, everyone needs to do their bit to ensure the scheme is successful.
4. Coordinate by having one person or a team to set up and devise communication systems, provide feedback and measure effectiveness.
Make sure that all stages of recycling (sorting, manufacturing and purchasing) are attended to and try to make recycling habitual for the staff and part of the corporate culture.
These are just a few tips on how to effectively reduce waste and improve energy efficiency in your office:
Save toner and paper by tracking the numbers of copies you make, encourage your employees to use photocopiers and printers only when essential. Before sending files to printer, ensure you preview the document using the ‘Print Preview’ function.
Reuse the scrap paper which already has text printed on one side for draft documents, taking notes, brainstorming, etc.
Recycle paper, cardboard, magazines, catalogues, brochures; return the unwanted packaging to suppliers for reuse. Use paper clips instead of staples, as they are reusable and easily removed from documents when you are shredding/recycling paper.
When purchasing office supplies, avoid overly packaged goods and choose well made products that will last longer. If your office is large enough, try buying in bulk when possible.
Try to reuse any stationery that can be reused, i.e. resealable envelopes, bubble wrap, refill pens, tape dispensers, folders, and rechargeable batteries.
When purchasing office supplies, make sure you choose recycled products.
Provide your staff with mugs and glasses rather than mountains of plastic cups. Set up an aluminium recycling scheme at the office for those who can’t make it through the day without a can of soft drink.
Advise your staff to read documents on their PC screens rather than printing them. This will save paper and reduce the clutter on your employees’ desks!
Encourage your staff to read newspapers online instead of getting them delivered to the office.
If possible, don’t use fax cover sheets.
Keep your mailing list updated to avoid posting unnecessary correspondence. Consider switching to virtual communication means, such as email.
If it is suitable for your business needs, implement digital filing systems, as electronic copies of documents save space and reduce paper and toner usage.
Donate unwanted materials, furniture and equipment for local community re-use. Contact your local council for more details.
Turn the lights off when and where they are not needed. If you prefer to keep lights on in the office over the weekend or at night for security reasons, use timers.
Make the most of natural day light in your office and do not turn your lights on if the premises are light enough. Consider rearranging the furniture if some of it is blocking the windows.
Unplug mobile phone chargers when not in use. Switch off the monitors when not in use and turn off the computers completely before leaving for the night or weekend.
Arrange a car-share with a colleague or a friend or a neighbour.