Americans throw away enough paper in a year to build a wall 12 feet high from New York City to Los Angeles. This fact is from earth911.org, a public service Website that focuses on recycling issues. Now that’s a lot of paper!
Despite the hype that computer makers fed us a few years ago, the computer has NOT decreased the paper used in most offices today. According to the U.S. Conference of Mayors Clean Your Files Day Program, the average citizen uses 1 ½ pounds of paper per day. The average office employee uses 10,000 sheets of paper per year according to
the Environmental Defense Fund.
Now that’s just the figures on paper. What about the ink cartridges and cell phones that are tossed into landfills each year. No matter how you slice it, recycling today is big business.
Whether it’s glass, paper, plastic, steel, ink cartridges, computers, magazines, cardboard boxes, cell phones or another material, recycling products reduces waste and cost, and saves energy and resources. So why isn’t your business utilizing a recycling program?
Many small business owners feel overwhelmed when asked about recycling, but it needn’t be daunting because there are a lot of resources available. Many of them are just an Internet click away. Some that you might look at are:
There may also be businesses nearby you that have “been there and done that” and may be willing to share advice, strategies, plans, and programs. Why reinvent the wheel when you can duplicate it?
Here are 18 steps that will help start your recycling program, and help your business become a good corporate citizen:
- Make the decision to start. Believing that a recycling program is positive and beneficial to the business must exist as the foundation.
- Get “buy-in” from other manage-ment and employees.
- Decide if you need a “designated” recycling coordinator. This could be a volunteer who feels strongly about the subject.
- Find a mentor or model. Find a business similar in size that has a successful program and ask for help.
- Create a program plan. This should include goals and measurable objectives.
- Know what can be recycled – what to collect and what to toss. There are regulations as to what can and cannot be recycled.
- Understand recycling and educate the team. Tell your employees why you want to recycle, why it’s important and what’s expected of each employee.
- Determine a collection method. Decide from the beginning whether recyclables will be commingled or separated by source.
- Make recycling convenient and easy. Don’t skimp on collection bins, for example. If a bin is easier to find than a trash can than your program is bound to work.
- Choose a method for removal. Here in Santa Clarita we’re fortunate to have our own trash companies alert about recycling and willing to assist citizens.
- Establish program guidelines. Keep it simple and foolproof for employees.
- Launch your program and get team “buy in”. Make it fun. Schedule a kick off program, or even a company-wide contest to name the program.
- Implement! Now it’s time to put the program into practice. Purchase and place bins, label recycling areas/bins. Make sure you place signs about what is recyclable and what isn’t in the same vicinity as the collection bins.
- Promote and market your program. Keep the momentum going among your employees. Some companies even offer incentive programs to recognize individuals or departments for their efforts.
- Evaluate the program periodically. Analyze your program’s effectiveness and let team members know the result. How much waste is being saved? Is it reducing costs? Are supply expenses lower?
- Keep it going and build on the program. If you started with just paper, now extend it to plastic/ink cartridges, for example.
- Publicize successes. Internally promote the program with workers via a newsletter or email. Externally, use it for a PR boost by sharing results with local and trade publications with a Press Release. Hey, great advertising!
- Close the loop. Buy recycled content products for your business, reduce waste in the office, and reuse materials when possible.
The start of a new business year is the perfect time to start a recycling program in your business. It’s just what’s needed to re-energize holiday-worn workers, and make them feel like a part of your company’s planning team. Happy Recycling!