Have you hit a wall when it comes to recycling within your workplace?
This week is the 18th annual Recycle Week, so we would like to give businesses inspiration on how to get their recycling efforts back on track and give those all-important stats a much-needed boost.
Even more importantly we would like to emphasise that recycling and sustainable awareness should be an ongoing focus that’s ideally built into the culture and day to day operations of the business, and not just a one-off project or novelty moment. So, looking beyond this Recycle Week we hope the content below will provide some inspiration to give your recycling program the kick start that it needs.
Going through the motions
It’s easy to go through the motions when it comes to setting up and managing a recycling system within your workplace and often, that big dose of enthusiasm and compliance on the launch of a new system tends to tail off as time goes by and the message becomes ‘seen but not heard’.
It is therefore important to remind ourselves why it is important to recycle, as with this in mind you can set the right precedent for your business going forward to achieve recycling success.
So why is it important to recycle?
It’s the right thing to do for the environment as it helps to reduce CO2
“It takes less energy and fewer emissions to recycle than to make things from scratch, which is why recycling saves a total of 18 million tonnes of CO2 a year in the UK”
This is because at every stage of a product’s lifecycle some form of greenhouse gas is emitted, from the extraction of raw materials, right through to its end disposal.
By managing waste more sustainably and taking the approach of Reducing, Reusing and Recycling, we are helping to reduce CO2 emissions, which is crucial for the future environmental stability of the planet.
Events in the news demonstrate the catastrophic impact that global warming is already having on the environment, it is, therefore, more important than ever that businesses take action to reduce their CO2 emissions.
It can save money
Quite simply recycling your waste is generally more cost effective than sending waste to landfill or Energy from Waste Recovery (EfW). And, whilst you may think you have everything in hand when it comes to recycling, when was the last time you scrutinized your system to test whether it is working or analyzed your waste?
Whether you are paying for empty space in your skips, emptying half full bins or paying for high disposal rates for items which could be recycled, you may be missing opportunities to manage your waste more cost effectively.
You are required to do it by law
Waste legislation dictates that all waste is treated in line with the waste hierarchy therefore all businesses are required to look at opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle their waste. Whilst some businesses may be happy to be seen to be doing the right thing, it is very likely that the government are going to get tougher on business to do their bit in the fight to reach Net Zero Carbon by 2050.
Clients are demanding more sustainable practices
Consumers and businesses are now demanding much tougher action on environmental issues from their suppliers and much-loved brands and are holding businesses to account for their environmental impacts. This is becoming more and more evident in the procurement process with tenders now requiring businesses to demonstrate shared values and commitment and sound environmental practice.
Now we have addressed why it is so important for businesses to have an effective recycling and resource management recycling programme in place, let’s look at some practical steps to achieving recycling success.
Get to know your waste
The first place to start is with an audit of your waste streams. This will help you to identify opportunities to manage waste more sustainably and assess where the system is working well and where there is room for improvement.
Here’s what to look out for:
- Are the right types of waste being placed in the right bins?
- What waste is in your recycling bins? Could any of this waste be reduced or reused. E.g., reusing of cardboard boxes, opportunities to reduce packaging by speaking to your supply chain?
- Are your recycling bins being contaminated with general waste? This will affect the quality of material sent for recycling and can affect overall recycling rates or recyclability of material.
- What waste is in your general waste – how much recycling is not being captured which could boost your recycling rates?
- Are there any materials which are being produced in a significant quantity that would benefit from single-stream recycling and could provide a potential rebate value?
A waste audit can yield a lot of information and your waste management service provider should be able to provide you with the relevant support to conduct the audit, analyse the data and act on the findings.
Review your waste management set up
Once you have the information from your audit you can review your set up to see if it’s fit for purpose, needs a complete overhaul, or just needs refining to help maximise results.
Check the following:
- Have you got the right ratio of recycling to general waste containers?
- What condition are the bins in and are they suitable for the types of waste being collected?
- Is waste being collected in the most effective and efficient way, could collections be reduced by installing larger containers or a baler?
- Are there any wastes which are produced in a significant quantity that could be collected separately?
- Are you using clear and concise signage which is colour-coded to aid better segregation?
- What condition is the signage in and are the words and pictures easily identifiable for the relevant waste streams.
Get the business on board
Good communication is the key to a successful recycling and waste management strategy. This starts by setting clear goals of what the business aims to achieve from their recycling and waste management programme and then communicating these with everyone involved so they understand what is required and why it is important.
Once you have reviewed your system and set your goals, it’s time to implement a communications plan
- Identify the various audiences you need to communicate with and make your communications relevant to their roles.
- Recruit enthusiastic members of staff as recycling and environmental champions to help you promote the benefits of recycling and encourage participation.
- Whether you are completely reviewing your recycling system or just fine tuning, consider having a launch day or environmental day, to share your goals and progress.
- Ensure you maintain consistent and regular communication and report back on progress, employees will soon lose interest if they don’t feel their efforts are being recognised or making an impact.
We hope our blog has given you inspiration to take the action on your recycling and resource management efforts. Here at Zest Recycle, we like to do things differently. Thanks to our years of experience, we’re able to provide complete waste management solutions to companies with multiple sites, multiple waste streams and more intricate waste requirements. So, if you are looking for a fresh, new perspective on your recycling and resource management challenges, get in touch and speak to one of our resource experts today.