We’ve all been there. Standing by the bins, an empty coffee cup or a box of old promotional materials in hand. Confronted with four different receptacles for plastic, paper, cardboard and general waste, which one do you choose? Are your materials even recyclable? Don’t you have something more important to do? In the general waste it goes.

Being aware of the importance of recycling

Your workforce is well aware of the importance of recycling. They do it at home – because they have to. So why doesn’t that behaviour always transfer to work? There are many reasons for this, from time pressures to confusing systems. Sometimes it’s just sheer bloody mindedness: this isn’t part of my job description.

The key to increasing recycling at work is understanding these underlying behaviours and attitudes. Talk to your staff and find out what they think. Try to put yourself in their shoes. What are the barriers to recycling better?

If this seems like a daunting task – and it can take time and effort to fully identify the real problems – then consider commissioning a waste and recycling review like the one offered by CSRB. It will identify some quick, easy, cost-effective wins for your business and set some long-term objectives that will transform recycling at work.

The three golden rules to help increase your recycling rate:

Organise – People need to know where, what and how to recycle. This means providing numerous ‘recycling bin stations’ across your organisation and making the system as clear as possible. Create a uniform colour coded system with clear illustrated instructions that show at a glance what goes in each bin, or adopt the national WRAP (Waste Resource Action Programme) iconography.

It helps if the recycling area is a pleasant place to visit – stylishly designed recycling bins drive up use in any organisation, whether that is a school or a commercial office. As a result you will drive recycling rates up, whilst also adding value to your work space through attractive design that boosts employee engagement.

Communicate – Make recycling a key priority for your company. It should be up there on the agenda of your regular company meetings and paraded as proudly as your annual profit announcements. That way you create a culture where employees see recycling as an integral part of their working lives and not an irritating afterthought. In time the system will become part of the wider work ecosystem, with employees educating each other about how to recycle.
To achieve your full potential in this area, CSRB can work directly with the marketing and communications teams to bring a recycling campaign to life. Consider also clearly marking any branded in house materials with recycling instructions that correspond to your bins.

Reduce – Of course, the ultimate goal is to create an environment where you don’t need to recycle so much. A waste and recycling review will set out how much and what your company is producing each month. From here you can go about bringing those numbers down. Cut down on paper by defaulting computer settings to do double sided printing. Replace reusable coffee cups and plastic straws with paper and glass. Reusable coffee cups and water bottles are both environmentally responsible and offer a useful space for corporate branding and company values.

Make your recycling success a point of pride. Let your people know just how much they are contributing, show them the figures and celebrate the cost savings they are contributing to the company. Continue the conversation with your staff and watch engagement soar.