Recycle more at work with a zero waste office plan

In 2017, a survey of 1,000 workers in the UK found that employees are significantly less likely to recycle in the workplace than at home. Nearly 20% of respondents said that they don’t recycle at work at all because it ‘falls outside of their remit’.

This means that there’s an opportunity for businesses to get more value from their recycling and waste management. Motivating your teams, and making recycling part of everyone’s remit, will cut down on the waste you produce, and increase your recycling rate.

Zero waste at work is an ambitious goal, but the steps along the way will also help you to waste less and recycle more.

According to WRAP, the Waste and Resources Action Programme, between 60% and 80% of all office waste is paper. Believe it or not, that’s actually good news – paper is the most widely recycled material in the world,  so it’s easy for you to collect and send for recycling.

At DS Smith, we collect a lot of paper and cardboard from businesses – in fact, we manage over 5 million tonnes of paper for recycling  across Europe every year. Our collections feed the DS Smith Group’s papermaking, plastics, and packaging production operations.

That’s why we work with our customers to ensure that they’re managing their recyclable materials in the best way possible – we have a vested interest in recycling what we collect from them.

If you want to boost recycling at your place of work, this zero waste office plan outlines some of the advice we give to the teams we work with.

1. What can you reduce?

Think ahead when you bring anything into the office. Is it going to become waste? A full audit of your recycling and waste management services will reveal your potential waste streams, allowing you to plan a reduction of anything that might become unnecessary waste. 

We’ve all heard of printing double-sided, but what can you do that takes it one step further? From planning out when you buy in your milk to re-using your scrap paper in the office, there are many ways that you can reduce the material you’re putting in the bin.

Talk to your waste management services provider to see what you can reduce before you look at what you’re going to recycle.

2. What can you recycle?

At DS Smith, we believe in recycling as much as we possibly can. The closed recycling loops within the DS Smith Group mean that it’s important for us to work with our customers to install bins for paper, cardboard, different types of plastic, and other recyclable streams. When our customers recycle more, we recycle more.

That’s the reason behind our proven track record of helping our customers cut down on their waste. We want everything that can be recycled to actually be recycled.  

What’s currently going to waste that you could recycle instead?

Once you know what materials you want to collect separately, it’s time to think about your bins.

3. Where are your bins?

Zero waste aspirations are great for every business, but you still need a system to collect the waste you do produce!

It sounds simple, but if your bins are in the wrong place, it’s harder for people to recycle properly. Remove individual bins from under people’s desks, and install a system of waste and recycling zones around your site, to ensure that you’re collecting as much material as you can.

When you’re planning your new system, think about where people sit, stand, or move around your office.

Putting a paper collection bin by the printer is an easy win, but where else in your office do you need one? You should work with your recycling and waste management services provider to plan out where your new bins need to go.

A food waste bin in your kitchens and break-out areas will help to reduce the contamination  in your other material streams, meaning that it can actually be recycled.

Metals and plastics can come from people’s lunch choices, so encourage them to wash up their trays and tins before putting them in the collections.

Remember – a true zero waste plan needs to be tailored to your location and your business, and your particular challenges and pressures.

4. Clear communication is crucial

You need to get your teams onboard  to realise the potential of your zero waste office plans. Everyone from the boardroom to the shop floor can make a difference to your recycling rate.

If you make any changes to the way you collect your waste materials, you need to let your teams know.

Encourage your managers to get involved, rolling out the changes in team meetings. You can appoint Recycling Champions, who do what their name suggests, and champion recycling in your businesses, helping team members to remember what needs to go where.  

Some organisations even set up leagues, tracking which teams are recycling the most – and encouraging a little friendly competition to see who can be the most sustainable.

If you’d like to talk about better waste management for your business and how a zero waste office plan could boost your recycling, get in touch with us today.