Office recycling: encouraging your staff to be greener

According to research, most of us care less about recycling at work than we do at home. This is a worrying fact considering the amount of time we spend in the office, where we are heavy users of heating, lighting and computers, and where we are generating large amounts of waste and recycling.

It can be hard to encourage employees to be environmentally conscious in the workplace. There’s no financial interest for them to reduce energy and they feel less responsible for the resources they are using than when they are at home. It is vital, therefore, that businesses continually inspire and assist their staff members to recycle.

We are committed to reducing our impact on the environment. Working in the waste and resources sector we feel a duty to lead by example, and over the last few years we’ve made some impressive year-on-year progress with our recycling rates. In 2013, we made the commitment to improve the amount of office waste we recycle by 20 per cent the following year. Achieving this, we challenged ourselves further in 2014 by increasing the target by another 20 per cent.

We are happy to report that we’ve achieved the targets we set ourselves each year, and have increased the amount of waste we recycle from 550kg in 2013 to 980kg so far this year, a 78 per cent rise.

Whilst we’ve made some administrative changes over the years, such as added our used printer toner cartridges to the items sent for recycling, a great deal of the improvement we’ve seen is thanks to the efforts of our staff. So how do you inspire your employees to take recycling as seriously as they do at home? Here we share our three top tips.

  1. Lead by example
    Leadership is essential. When management demonstrate their commitment to the environment, they will help to inspire their staff. Regular audits and a review of your recycling practices are also essential, with feedback to staff to highlight successes or improvements. We show recycling hints and inspirational messages on display screens in the office to remind staff how many trees can be saved if we all use less paper.
  2. Make things easy
    Unfortunately, when employees are busy, recycling can fall to the bottom of the pile, so businesses need to make it as easy as possible for everyone to recycle. Place recycling bins in all offices and label them properly, reduce the number of waste bins, set the office printer to print on both sides of the paper by default and ensure your staff know what they can recycle and where, with clear communication, signage and direction.
  3. Be creative
    Encourage staff to think about what and how they can recycle, and most importantly what they can reuse. We ask staff to use scrap paper for notepads, or collect paper that has been printed on one side and reuse it for printing in draft. Each year our staff exchange secret Santa presents and we now wrap these in scrap office paper and old magazines.

Our commitment to the environment

We are committed to sustainable business principles and have sought to find the most environmentally friendly methods of running our business from day one. We are approved to ISO 9001 and 14001 for both our Quality and Environmental Management Systems, which underlines our commitment and dedication to maintaining the highest quality standards in the delivery of our services, whilst remaining as 'green' as we possibly can within a competitive market place.

Hayley Bosworth is Clarity Environmental’s Quality and Manager and monitors and advises on the performance of our quality and environmental management systems. Hayley manages our ISO 9001 and 14001 approval, which gives both current and prospective customers the assurance and confidence that they are dealing with a reputable organisation that works to the highest standards.

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