Set up a Work Recycling Program

Category: Facilities Maintenance


Most workplaces can easily set up a reduce, reuse and recycle program in the office. It can be as small or large as you want, and part of that may depend on your workforce and the amount of support you have. Help your employees feel proud that they work at a company that takes steps to make the earth a better place for future generations.

Here’s an example of a program at a small company that was started by a group of employees:

A small office started a book reuse and recycle program for employees in less than a week. They put a bookcase and reading chairs in the break room and asked for volunteers to bring in books they no longer wanted. The process was easy, simply place books on the shelf to share, and take one to read. Keep it if you love it or bring it back to share it with others. Be considerate and try to at least replace what you took. Each month a group of volunteers would go through the books and titles with multiple copies would have some of the copies donated to a local charity and any books that were falling apart would be broken down and recycled with other office paper products. Soon the breakroom became a small library and the employees loved it.

Many employees want to be part of something bigger than themselves, and an eco-conscious program that needs employee participation to survive is a great way to bring everyone together. It engages employees in a positive way and has a beneficial impact on the earth.

Follow these tips to help start and sustain a successful program at your facility.

Get Support from Powerful Personalities

Whether it’s an influencer or a CEO, you’ll need the backing of those that matter to others. In every organization, no matter how flat, or how high, leaders still stand out. Make sure you have their support and voice for your program. It will encourage others to listen and participate.

Create Strong Communications Centered Around Education

Once you have your backbone, it’s time to not only use their voice, but develop a strong communications plan for your program and provide clear directions for participants. The easier you can make things, the better. If things are complicated, you’ll quickly find that less passionate people will give up and go back to what they did before.

To make things easy, start your search at Earth911®, one of the most extensive recycling databases with tons of information. You’ll find education materials, quizzes, inspirational information, and much more.

Consider your audience when collecting and creating your communication pieces, but overall you should want to include items that communicate:

  • How to join in and become part of the recycling team (you can always use more help)
  • What can be recycled and any steps that should be taken prior to the material going into receptacles
  • Signage for receptacles, messaging for around the building, direct messaging to employees, training for managers, current staff and new employees
  • Education for employees about what happens to the materials that are being reused or recycled after they leave the building and the space being saved in landfills
  • Results of the program and how it makes the company’s carbon footprint smaller
  • A plan for re-education if/when incorrect processes are being performed on a continuous basis
  • Information on how employees can implement a similar reduce, reuse and recycle program at home
  • When additional techniques will be applied to further improve the process

Utilize the Expertise of Your Facilities Management and Janitorial Teams

Whether your current waste output is controlled internally or by a third party, working with your facilities and janitorial team will help you see the big picture. How much trash does your company produce? What is its composition? Your CMMS in combination with the power of your facilities team should be able to give you general information immediately, but they should also be able to work with you to provide a trash audit and determine where you can make the biggest impact.

Create a Goal

Once you know what is important to employees and where you can make a big impact, create a goal that others can work towards. An achievable goal gives the program a bit of gamification. In a large organization, creating teams by floor, location or department can build up the competition to help save the world.

Develop a Process with Your Facilities Management Team

Make sure to include the facilities management team and janitorial crews in the communications and process creation for your reduce, reuse and recycle program and keep them updated. Often, what seems like common process flow may not work in real life. Having the additional insight of a trained crew can help give you additional ideas, find new efficiencies and provide you with reporting that can ensure the success of your program.

Form a Method to Share and Receive Feedback so the Recycling Program can be Continuously Grown and Improved

Once your program is in place, make sure you share how the program is doing and listen to others about what is working and what can be improved. You may be able to add more recyclable items to your program and expand it. You may need more receptacles, or need to move them in order to get better participation. Reports may need to be changed or structured differently to give you a better picture of the impact your company is having. You’ll be amazed by some of the great ideas you’ll receive from others when you listen.

We only have one planet and together we can put forth some effort to help save it.