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How to implement a corporate recycling program

In our previous post, we discussed all the benefits of creating a recycling program at your organisation, as a way to formalise the business’ commitment to the environment.

In this post, we take it a step further, addressing the 5 steps you need to take to put your corporate recycling program into action.

1. Start small

Taking advantage of any free recycling programs in your area is an easy way to get some wins on the board for your initiative without much effort on your part. These successes will give your business the necessary momentum to move onto bigger initiatives.

Here are some organisations you could start with:

  • Cartridges for Planet Ark: KYOCERA is a proud partner in the Cartridges for Planet Ark program, which collects toner cartridges and other printer consumables for recycling.

  • SIMS Recycling Solutions and KYOCERA’s Take Back program: It’s important to recycle e-waste in order to prevent toxic materials going to a landfill, and eventually leaching into the soil and impacting on the local environment. Through SIMS Recycling Solutions, we are now able to offer a collection and recycling service to KYOCERA customers in Metro areas, which helps to recycle end-of-life electronic waste, such as printers. As part of our commitment to corporate sustainability, KYOCERA also runs a machine recycling program for printers, copiers and multifunction devices – contact your local KYOCERA office to find out more.

  • Mobile Muster: Recycle old mobile phones and their accessories with Mobile Muster, who are also doing their part to help reduce e-waste. This year, the program managed to collect and recycle an amazing 90 tonnes of mobile phone components – that’s 1.2 million handsets and batteries!

  • Nespresso: Coffee machines that use coffee capsules have become very popular in workplaces, but unfortunately these capsules cannot be accepted by kerbside recycling bins. Nespresso provides a variety of ways of recycling them, so you can prevent these from going to a landfill.

  • TerraCycle: Recycle your mailing satchels with TerraCycle. They also run a variety of other free recycling programs, recycling things like beauty products and oral care products, if you wanted to expand your program beyond the office walls.

2. Conduct a waste audit

A waste audit is essential to a good corporate recycling program, as it helps to set a benchmark against which to measure progress, while also showing where the biggest problems might lie so these can be tackled early on.

You could simply take a walk around the office and see what employees are putting into the rubbish bins, or look at waste and recycling invoices to determine how much waste is being generated. And, if you’re really serious, you could also enlist the help of a professional waste auditor.

Bin Trim is a program run by the NSW Environmental Protection Authority, which offers a free waste and recycling assessment, as well as a tailored action plan for your business. Your business may even be eligible for a rebate of between $1000 and $50,000 to help with the purchase price of recycling equipment.

Even if you aren’t located in NSW, you can still use their free Bin Trim tool, which will help you develop a profile of your current waste and recycling rates and give you advice about how to reduce them.

There is also BusinessRecycling.com.au, which can give advice and help you easily locate recyclers and recycling equipment in your area.

3. Prioritise staff participation

A successful corporate recycling program is entirely dependent on staff participation, so it is crucial to make this a priority.

When introducing a new program, ensure there is staff training that clearly explains what the program aims to achieve, why it is being established, and what is expected of each staff member. 

Not only does this set clear guidelines, but it also provides motivation, as staff understand the reasoning behind the program. This training should also be built into any orientation programs and information packs for new employees.

You should also provide regular feedback about any successes of the recycling program, to help further reinforce positive behaviour. It can be helpful to frame achievements in terms that are more accessible to the average person, such as costs saved or number of cars removed from the road (the Recyculator is a fun tool that can help with this).

It’s also important to try to eliminate any barriers that might prevent employees from recycling. Unclear or absent signage can potentially cause confusion, and even the way in which signs are designed or worded can influence behaviour. For example, signs that are seen as negative or too pushy can be off-putting, and lower participation.

Even the location of the recycling bins can have a marked effect – one study found that when a single paper recycling bin was placed in the utility room of a large office, only 28% of paper was recycled, but when individual recycling trays were placed on each desk, this number went up to 94%.

4. Focus on reducing waste as well as instilling recycling practices

While it’s of course important to recycle, it’s also important to factor in ways of reducing that waste in the first place.

Take, for example, paper waste. Could you enforce double-sided printing? Could you install pull printing to help eliminate unnecessary or duplicate printing? Could you implement digital workflows that allow documents to be processed electronically? Not only would these measures reduce the amount of paper used, but they also have the added benefit of reducing the amount of toner used.

Reducing waste means there is less material that needs to be recycled. Be sure to consider not just what goes into the waste bin, but what happens across the organisation as a whole. And don’t be afraid to think outside the box!

5. Buy it back

The whole point of recycling is to create a circular economy. But the fact is, the circular economy doesn’t function if we don’t fully participate in it by purchasing products made from recycled material.

PlanetArk Process for Recycling Used Printer Cartridges

Image source: PlanetArk

Take a close look at the products you use and see whether you can switch to suppliers that use recycled materials. At KYOCERA, for example, our packaging is made from 100% recycled, all-paper construction, and uses only vegetable and soy dyes in the printing process, so it is safe for the environment.

Get your corporate recycling program off to a flying start with these top tips, and make sustainability a key value for your organisation.

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