We are all concerned about waste removal, but have you considered implementing waste prevention and recycling programs? You can work with the employees at your facility by actively engaging and educating them, and get their help identifying markets for your recovered materials.
The most effective way to reduce your organization’s waste is to generate less in the first place. Waste prevention offers the greatest environmental benefits and cost savings. You can modify current practices to reduce the amounts of waste generated by changing the design, manufacture, purchase, or use of materials or products. For example, your organization could encourage employees to only print what they need and ensure that printer settings are defaulted to print double-sided to save paper. Where paper cannot be saved, be sure that it is properly disposed of in a recycling bin when its purpose is completed.
The reuse of products and packaging prolongs the useful life of these materials, thus delaying final disposal or recycling. Reuse is the repair, refurbishing, washing, or just simple recovery of worn or used products, appliances, furniture and building materials. For example, by encouraging occupants to use reusable coffee mugs rather than single-use, disposable cups, you don’t have to manage the disposal of a plethora of coffee cups.
Of course, we’re all aware of the value of recycling. Recycling saves energy, helps keep materials out of landfills and incinerators, and provides raw materials to produce new products. When waste cannot be prevented, recycling is the next best option. Recycling is more than extending the life of landfills. It is about making the best use of the resources we have available and conserving those resources for future generations. It is about conserving water, energy, land and raw materials for generations to come.
For food waste and landscape trimmings, the recycling of organics, also known as composting, is the answer. Composting converts organic materials into a valuable soil amendment that contributes to soil health and keeps organic wastes out of landfills.
Once the option to recycle or compost is available, then it’s important to engage and educate tenants and employees. Recycling is an easy, visible way people engage in an organization’s sustainability efforts. Whether you’re starting a new recycling program or reinvigorating an existing one, make an announcement and host a program kick-off. Have a senior leader in the organization announce the goals, why this effort is important and how it will be implemented. Use challenges, zero waste lunches, recognition and more to highlight people’s role in helping the organization meet its waste reduction goals.
Make sure you have clear signage on recycling, composting, and trash bins that include pictures of what goes in which bin. When it comes to trash and recycling bins it’s best to keep them next to each other so people have both options in one place. It should be as easy to recycle as it is to throw something away. Make sure that all waste bins and recycling bins are clearly marked to avoid misuse. If your recycling bins are blue, composting is green, and trash is black, keep the colors consistent throughout your program and building.