Setting Up an Office Recycling Programme
Some of the hardest people to educate and motivate are your own office employees and coworkers. Resistance to recycling is common amongst any group of people who are also known to resist any and all forms of change, even when it is presented in a positive light.
Consider the number of offices that exist throughout the world. It has been estimated that fully 80 to 90 percent of all office rubbish can be recycled. Getting your people on board with the program can be like pulling the proverbial teeth.
Old-timers will squawk that they never had to separate garbage in the old-days. Younger employees will whine that they don't have time to focus on rubbish segregation. Even after you explain how proper recycling can save the business money, which means extra cash for bonuses and merit raises, the team just is not buying it. What to do?
Stage One: Make Them Part of the Planning
- Hold a discussion in which you make it clear that recycling is not an option. For offices with more than 50 or so employees, this will have to be broken down by department or work group for convenience. Outline the benefits again. Solicit suggestions for bin colors, types of bins needed, bin placement, personal identification protection, and pick-up scheduling.
- Delegate specific questions to employees or teams depending on how large your organisation is.
- Set a time frame in which everyone is expected to submit the decisions they have reached.
Stage Two: Set Up the Program
Based on the feedback, outline exactly how the program is going to work. Include where bins will be located, how many, what types. Describe in the plan the proper process of discarding office rubbish and when it will be picked-up.
Emphasise again the reasons for the program and the benefits that the company and the employees will realise. Recommend against holding materials that clearly should be discarded.
Some documents will require holding based on business needs and governmental requirements. A plan should be formulated to deal with these types of documents to ensure both business and regulatory compliance.
Personal Identifying Information is another topic that must be carefully considered so as to avoid identity theft and the legal complications associated with allowing customer, or employee personal identifying information to be mishandled and to fall into the hands of criminals.
Provide clear guidelines and point out the negative impacts that faulty handling of recyclable items can have on the company. Where applicable, also indicate the ramifications for the individual employee who causes the company embarrassment through negligence and failure to comply.
Starting with the everyday rubbish is an excellent way to kick off the program. Provide separate or segregated, colour-coded bins that are clearly marked. In the employee cafeteria, there should be separate containers for plastic bottles, aluminium cans, food waste, cardboard, and paper.
Stage Three: Keep Things Running Smoothly
Supervisors should ensure that each employee is aware of the bins and the necessity to comply with the program. Set up a compliance contest that involves employees reporting the names of employees seen complying.
Bonus points can be awarded to anyone who goes above and beyond their personal responsibility, for instance, taking the initiative to properly discard something left behind by a negligent employee.
A daily, weekly, or monthly prize can be awarded to an individual or team for those who have accumulated the highest number of positive reports recognising their compliance.
The contest should be ongoing, at least until all non-compliance issues vanish. If needed, the contest can be brought back into play when employees get lax.
Each employee should have a personal recycling bin at their desk. Documents containing customer names, addresses, phone numbers, account numbers or other confidential information should be placed in these bins throughout the day. At the end of each shift, each worker must empty their personal bin into the locked Personal Identifying Documents Bin in their work area. These bins protect personal information from being retrieved by persons who should not have access.
Team members should be assigned to do a daily recyclable document patrol of their area at the end of the shift. This person will scout the personal recycling bins, desks and cubicles for any documents that have been left exposed and that may place the company at risk for identity theft crimes. This person should also check printers and faxes to ensure that private and confidential documents have not been left on these office machines.
Employees can make a huge difference in the amount of waste that is processed from your office and the impact that it has. Cost-savings and even small amounts of recycling revenue can be generated and enjoyed by the employees.