Learn 5 Ways You Can Reduce Waste In Your Professional Office Space
If your business is in the Professional Services Industry, waste can often be overlooked as a source of containing costs. A waste management system can minimize waste consumption and control unnecessary costs the same as you would be likely to utilize energy management systems to minimize energy.
However, unlike expensive energy management systems, a waste management system is easy and cheap to implement consisting of a simple minimization and recycling plan that will have an immediate impact on reducing operational overheads. As a result, the more dollars that are saved in overhead cost, the more dollars go to the bottom line as profit.
In many instances, you could consider that waste can cost your business twice: once when you procure the item and then again when you dispose of it, therefore, the savings can be considerable. Below we outline five actions that you can take to make a noticeable difference in reducing office waste.
1. Separate Out Organics
Organic waste is often overlooked in an office waste management plan. However, even if offices don’t have on-site catering facilities, it’s estimated that food waste represents 20-30% of the average 4.4 lbs of waste that an office worker generates every day.
Because of its weight, diverting food waste can have a significant effect on your organization’s diversion rate. Common organic items that can be diverted from waste bins and into an organics stream are:
- Food scraps
- Paper towels and napkins
- Coffee grinds & tea bags
- Cardboard sleeves from some hot beverage cups
- Compostable plates and cutlery
2. Recycle or Refurbish Electronic Equipment and Reuse Office Equipment
Electronic waste (e-waste) collection is becoming an important part of office recycling programs. Common items that can easily be recycled include:
- Cell phones
- Ink cartridges
- Florescent tubes
- CDs and DVDs
Check with your waste management partner as you set up your e-waste recycling program, to ensure that it complies with all e-waste legislation at state and local level. Learn more about e-waste recycling here.
Before faulty electronic equipment is sent for recycling, it can be prudent to create a protocol where high value items are initially sent to an IT refurbisher. Not only will this offer the possibility to reduce the volume of e-waste that your business produces, but it could also reduce your IT procurement costs, as many items can be given years of extra life after having been refurbished.
Other items of office equipment can be effectively reused within the office. Some businesses create a designated storage room where employees can place their old office supplies, or for facilities to use when an employee’s desk is cleared. Common items that can easily be reused include:
- File folders
- Computer monitors
Before a member of staff is authorized to purchase new equipment, it can become protocol for them to check the reuse room first.
3. Transition to Digital Files, Automation of Workflows and Electronic Invoicing
With free programs like Google Docs that allows you to write, edit, and collaborate for free online, and Dropbox, that enables you to sync and share files, digital collaborative working on documents can eliminate a considerable amount of paper use in the workplace. In addition, tools now exist to automate the transition and tracking of documents electronically from person to person and department to department to speed workflow without the need for printing.
A “think before you print” message can also be incorporated into corporate email footers, to serve as a gentle reminder to recipients.
The use of electronic invoicing doesn’t just reduce procurement costs for office paper, but also reduces postage costs.
4. Create Centralized Recycling Stations
On average, 80% of the waste generated by office workers is recyclable. Making individual waste disposal a conscious decision rather than a subconscious action actively increases the volume of materials that are recycled, enabling employees to think about what they are throwing out, rather than chucking it all in the one under desk bin. The most practical way to implement this is to provide each desk with a recycling can, and to reduce the size of the trash can. Studies have shown that this simple change can increase recycling rates by as much as 20%.
Centralized bins can also be provided around the office. Each set of bins should reflect the common items that are disposed of in that area. Recycling bins should always be paired with a waste bin, so that employees don’t dispose of waste into the nearest recycling bin if no trash can is available.
In the center of an office, a common bank would be:
- 1 x general waste bin
- 1 x paper & cardboard bin
- 1 x cans and bottles bin
- 1 x organic waste
Near a canteen or staff common room, the addition of a glass bin can be beneficial. If you have a single source-recycling system, then the number of bins is reduced.
Bins should be in the appropriate color scheme and be clearly signed to show what can (and cannot) be placed inside.
5. Ban Bottled Water
In the U.S., 38 billion water bottles end up in landfill annually. Encourage employees to use reusable water bottles by placing water fountains or water dispensers throughout your office and remove bottled water from vending machines.
Some businesses provide employees with company branded stainless steel water bottles to promote sustainable habits, which keeps them from purchasing bottled water, and allows the company to benefit from free advertising when they carry it outside the office.
Waste Minimization with NWA
National Waste Associates (NWA) has decades of experience in implementing tailored waste minimization programs for its customers. We can develop a plan for each location that will reduce resource consumption, and ensure your business remains in full compliance with all necessary waste and recycling legislation.
Partnering with NWA will enable you to gain complete control of your waste operations and significantly minimize the costs associated with it. Check out this waste minimization article on our website to learn more about the benefits we can bring your business.
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