How to Implement a Successful Recycling Program Across Your Business
While most companies have both trash and recycling collection services for their office waste, not all companies have a strategic recycling plan. This results in businesses paying more than they need to for their waste collection, with large volumes of recyclable material ending up in the trash.
With companies increasingly being measured on their environmental performance as well as their financial capabilities, it’s now more important than ever to make sure that your waste management operation is as sustainable as it can possibly be. In this article, we look at the six steps you can take to ensure you create a successful recycling program across your entire business.
1. Ask Your Waste Management Provider to Perform a Waste Audit
Before you can move forward with any plans to create an effective recycling program, you need to know exactly what waste types are produced, where they are generated, and in what volumes. A waste audit shows where opportunities exist for your new recycling program, allowing you to see what recyclable materials are currently being disposed of with your trash.
While it’s important to audit the trash that is generated by your business, it is also beneficial to perform an analysis of the recycling streams, to ensure that these are clean and uncontaminated. This information will guide future staff training and signage.
You should also establish the baseline diversion rate for your business. This is the percentage of your total waste that is recycled or reused, rather than being sent to landfill. The baseline diversion rate gives you a point of comparison to show the success of your new recycling program as you implement it.
2. Customize Your Recycling Program
With the data from the waste audits, you will now be able to see what material streams require separate collections. For example, many Professional Services companies are surprised when they see the weight of organic waste in their trash, and so organize a separate organics recycling collection.
If you have cardboard, paper, plastic bottles, cans and glass, but each material stream is produced in relatively low volumes, then a single stream recycling program might be best suited for your business. With single stream recycling, all of these materials are collected together in one bin, so this is a simple and easily actionable program to establish.
Discuss your plans with your full service waste management partner to see if they can provide any additional ideas for how to further increase your diversion rate, or reduce the costs of the entire waste management operation. For large volume operations, they may suggest specialized equipment that can increase the value of your recyclable materials, or reduce the financial and environmental impact of your waste collections. Check out our article on balers and compactors for more guidance on this topic.
3. Get Support and Commitment From Executive Management
Now that you have identified the opportunities to expand and improve your company’s recycling program, it becomes vital to secure the support of the Executive Management team.
As you’ll have seen from our previous article, many improvements to recycling programs can be made for no, or zero cost. However, in some cases, an upfront investment may provide greater opportunity to improve the effectiveness of your program, reduce costs, and reduce the environmental impact of your waste and recycling operations.
The support of the executive management team will help to give a new recycling program greater momentum and ensure that all employees, at all levels of the company follow the new procedures.
4. Review Your Procurement Policies
In order to have the greatest impact on diversion rates and recycle the greatest proportion of the company’s waste, the procurement policies will need to be reviewed. Attention should focus on not only the recyclability of the materials purchased, but also the percentage of recycled content in them, where applicable.
Bulk purchasing some consumables can eliminate waste entirely. For example, coffee and sugar sachets can be replaced with jars of loose product to entirely eliminate this paper waste.
5. Train Employees
Both induction and continuous staff training should include a short module on the company’s environmental policies, together with information on the recycling program. This will ensure that all employees are aware of the positive steps that the business is making, and improve adherence to the new protocols, reducing the risk of contamination or recycling ending up in the trash.
A re-launch campaign can be effective to improve staff engagement and make people aware of the changes to their recycling program. At this point, all trash and recycling bins should be re-labeled to clearly show what can, and can’t be put in each stream. Any common contaminators found in the initial waste audit should be included as NO items.
6. Keep Track Of The Program
Recording and tracking data on the tonnages of each material stream and your company’s diversion rates – broken out by location where possible – will enable you to easily see what elements of your new recycling program are working effectively, and what needs amending.
Some waste management companies provide access to this data through a reporting platform, so that you can instantly see the information that you need to guide your decisions and report to executive management on the success of the program.
Build the Best Recycling Program with NWA
National Waste Associates (NWA) has decades of experience creating simple, low cost, highly efficient recycling programs for our customers. Our expert team can tailor programs right down to each location’s specific requirements, taking into account any differences in legislation or the availability of material recycling that exist across the country.
Because we recognize the power of data, we provide all our customers with access to their own operational and financial information through our online portal, NWA360. This allows you to view information on the effectiveness of your recycling program at a company-wide level, and then right down to the individual site level.
Not only that, but we’ll also streamline your waste operations so that they have the lowest carbon footprint, and the maximum value is extracted from all resources consumed.
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