Recycling in the workplace can save a business money and also make for a happier team. It’s just as important as recycling at home because nearly half the waste generated in the U.S. happens at businesses and other non-residential locations. Below are just a few of many steps you can take to reduce waste in the workplace:
Choose Durables – They Pay Off!
Have you noticed how many disposable and single-use products there are in the marketplace today? Consider the following:
These products are designed to add convenience to our lives, but is the added convenience worth the extra cost? We don’t think so.
Reduce waste, conserve resources and save money by choosing cloth shopping bags and real dishes and cups and other products that are long lasting and safe for the environment.
Pay Attention to Packaging
Packaging makes up about 30 percent of municipal solid waste. This places a burden on landfill facilities and wastes natural resources (such as minerals, forest ecosystems and water). Reduce the amount of packaging you “buy” to prevent waste and conserve resources by selecting products with less packaging.
Get the Most Out of What You Buy
All of the things that we buy today will eventually become waste. We can get more out of the things we purchase by choosing products wisely. When buying a new product, ask yourself:
Rent or Borrow Instead of Buying
Consider renting or borrowing, instead of buying, items that you will use only infrequently. Items that are commonly available for rent include trailers, camping equipment, lawn care equipment, tables and chairs, ladders, power tools and tree-trimming equipment.
Options for reducing office paper consumption
We can all do our part to reduce waste and save resources and money in the office. A great place to start is with something that surrounds us everyday: Paper. There are several methods to reducing an office’s paper consumption.
Use electrons, not trees
Think double sided!
Double-sided copying and printing is a simple step to cut paper consumption right away and it is easy. If you need some help, ask your IT person or administrative staff. Here are double-sided ideas to consider:
Do not print emails!
Have you seen the person in your office that prints every email? Don’t be that person. An email was born electronically – let it live that way. Organize your emails by creating sub folders by topic or project.
Print multiple pages on a sheet!
Under Print – Properties you can print one, two, four or more pages on a single sheet of paper. This can save a lot of paper when printing out a PowerPoint presentation, for example.
Do not print blank pages!
As documents are created, extra paragraph marks can sneak down and create a new blank page. Check the document completely and hit “Delete” at the end of the document to make sure you are not going to a new page.
Format your pages!
Check your formatting. The standard on your computer is 1 to 1 ½ inch margins, which you may not really need. You can keep the font at 12 point, and decrease your margins to maximize use of the paper.
Reduce the number of office publications!
Limit the number of multiple subscriptions to the same publications. Develop a routing sheet and route the issues around the unit or office. Subscribe to electronic versions if available.
Reduce junk mail!
If you get unwanted catalogs or advertising mail, contact the mailer and ask them to take you off their list. More ideas are available on the website of the Bay Area Recycling Outreach Coalition.
Nix the fax!
You don’t have to put up with unwanted faxes! A federal rule went into effect in 2005 that made it unlawful to send an unsolicited advertisement to a fax machine without prior written permission of the recipient. For more information, or to file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission, visit ww.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/unwantedfaxes.html (external).
Need a notepad? Put that old paper to good use. Ask the print shop to make notepads for you from your waste paper printed on one side.
Strategies & Programs
Calculate your paper usage!
Use an online paper calculator tool. The Environmental Defense Fund Paper Calculator is a nifty little paper usage calculating tool.
Tracking paper usage and knowing if you reduced consumption!
Without too much effort, one can see if paper reduction efforts have reduced consumption in two ways:
If you must consume it, use paper with the highest recycled content (at least 50%).
Find an office advocate!
Find a representative in your office to take suggestions, complaints and help find resources for office paper recycling. Add an item in your agency or company newsletter, or have a bulletin board with helpful suggestions.
Finally, make sure you recycle correctly in your office! Some of the top contaminants found in office recycling bins include:
“The roadmap to environmental responsibility for the restaurant industry follows a path of incremental steps. It is an ongoing process that continually challenges businesses to generate greater efficiencies, reduce waste and expand their capacity to use renewable resources as new technologies and practices become available. In essence, environmental responsibility is a tool — a way of approaching business decisions that helps businesses achieve their existing strategic goals more efficiently, quickly and cost effectively.”
Excerpt from National Restaurant Association Conserve
Reduce Waste, Increase Profit ($$$)
“Better handling of food waste is one of the most important opportunities we have to decrease our environmental footprint and address hunger in America,” said Scott DeFife, the NRA’s (National Restaurant Association) executive vice president of policy and government affairs. “Food waste has a dramatic impact on the environment, so our goals are two-fold: we want to increase the amount of food sent to donation and also decrease the food waste that is sent to landfill.”
Waste Reduction By Area
Bar & Beverage
Appliances & Equipment
Buy condiments in bulk & use refillable dispensers—this is more sustainable than packet condiments. The containers from the bulk condiments can also be recycled
Paper & Janitorial Supplies