“Sustainability” isn’t a new thing. It might be a new term, but many of its practices go back a long time. As a nation, we’ve been recycling for years. Sustainability is all about taking it to the next level.
If you are already doing basic recycling, but want to do more, what are some of the options?
A great place to start is by designating specific “recycling” areas or zones within your facility or facilities. Signage and painting, indications on a “campus map,” are good ways to let your employees, your staff, and your visitors know that there is a recycling area nearby, no matter where they are in your facility. If people know that something is close by, they’re more apt to use it. Plus, they know that the areas will be emptied regularly, so they won’t be putting something in an area and then still seeing it there months later.
Going “paperless” is a profound way to be more efficient, and more sustainable. Start encouraging your staff to commit to working without printing out multiple pages. Put a “central” printer in place that all can network to, and right next to it, put a shredder. Start eliminating old files that are no longer relevant. You can even work with a local printing vendor to recycle non-confidential into note pads.
Eliminate the clutter in your facility. Donate old office furniture to various charitable organizations that have a need. Consider using returnable pallets in a loading dock area to eliminate wood on site. If you have old wood in storage areas, find a wood recycler vendor to separate and recycle it. You can find a bulk pick up vendor to safely remove old furniture, fixtures, machinery, electronics, clothing items – anything that is clogging up your facility – and the vendor will recycle and repurpose the materials in a safe and sustainable manner.
Keep track of your waste – data is critical. Make sure that each waste product has a specific name for filing –paper, toner, oil, food, etc. Record every type of waste that leaves your facility, and track the totals for each quarter and each year. It’s a wonderful way to see, over time, if you are lowering your waste totals, or if they’ve increased, which area is affected, and what you should be addressing to reduce the waste totals. Benchmarking performance is a key factor in attaining success in any venture. Identify the areas and establish a goal. Although most everyone does some form of recycling but some don’t set goals for their programs, or are unable to tell if they were getting better or worse when comparing one year to the next. Set sustainability goals in stone and hold people accountable. Keeping the score and communicating results in your company newsletters keeps everyone accountable and on board with the plan.
Incorporate sustainability into waste reduction by starting with purchasing policies. Find products that are easily recyclable, such as paper products or cleaning products. Be on the lookout for products you can substitute – working with a commercial maintenance partner can help you identify what new or existing products might work in place of an older product.
These are just some ways you can help your facility achieve sustainability. Starting small can add up to something big, so implementing changes in one area will encourage you to make additional, sustainable, changes in other areas. It all adds up!