How to recycle at work

Filed in Blog, Guest Posts by on July 29, 2010 6 Comments
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Julie Day shares tips for recycling at work

Julie Day shares tips for recycling at work

This week’s guest post is from Julie Day who, until recently, worked at Guy’s campus.

She has published short stories in small press magazines, and letters in health and writing magazines.  She had her first children’s book published in April 2009 called Rosie and the Sick School about healthy eating at school with a magical twist.  She is  currently working on her second about helping the environment and a third about using natural products.

Today, Julie shares her tips for setting up recycling facilities in the workplace.

Recycle at work

Can you recycle at work?  If the answer is no, then ask someone why not?  If you’re a keen recycler like me, then why not take it on yourself to ask, can we start?

Where I worked, we recycled most things, including batteries.  Glass had to be kept separate as was collected by a different company, and batteries had to be taken down to the department who collect recycling, where they are collected.  There was a specific department that collects the recycling, and they collected all kinds of recycling, including old electronic equipment and waste.  It’s only been the last few years that recycling taken off and even more since last year when the battery recycling scheme was set up.  Recycling is collected on a weekly basis.

Recycling areas

So, how do you go about it?  Well, we had two areas where recycling is kept. Card was put in plastic bins in an old filing cabinet, and any extra card can be fitted in between or behind the bins (see photo).  For paper etc, we had big paper bins with the mobius loop on (see photo).  There are a few of these around the department as there are three main staff areas: reception area where I worked, the kitchen (where all other recycleables such as bottles are put), and the main office where the team administrators work.  When I found out that I could recycle all plastics with the mobius loop on (which I can’t at home), I took them to work to recycle.

Stamps and crisp packets

I also personally collected stamps and empty crisp packets, and emailed everyone to let them know I collect these for charities and I got more stamps then crisp packets.  The stamps I send off to the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association and the packets I send to the Philippine Community Fund (as mentioned on my blog for the Rubbish Diet Challenge).

Scrap paper I either recycled, reused for messages or took it home to use for printing out my current writing project.  I also collected used envelopes to reuse for internal post.

IT equipment

I mentioned old equipment.  The IT department took the machines away to try and fix before selling them onto students, or if the student didn’t want it then they will send it over to a third world country.  If not then they will be disposed of responsibly.

So how do you get recycling at work?  Here are my tips:

Recycling tips

1.      If you don’t currently recycle, find out the department who can and ask if they can set it up.

2.      Once set up, find the space and containers to put the recycling in.

3.      If the department doesn’t have a rota, then if you’re keen to recycle, maybe opt to send out reminders to your department and email to collect.

4.      Try not to preach about it – I learnt not to.

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (6)

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  1. Jane says:

    What can you recycle in the office? It is what your commercial recycling contract says you can and not necessarily what you can at home! By law you have to have a commercial waste contract BUT that does not mean it has to be with your Local Authority. You need to assess what waste you are making so that you can choose the appropriate registered waste company/carrier or companies/carriers. It is tough trying to get that message across when everyone thinks that because something says ‘recyclable’ on it then it must be recyclable everywhere.

    Our collection does not include beverage cartons/Tetrapaks but I bet many people can recycle these at home. Whether people take them home to recycle or put them in the residual waste bin at work I ask for them to be flattened as they take up too much space in the bin. What is the point of wasting space in bins and banks and in having lorries trundling around carrying more air than cartons?!

  2. Zoe Williams says:

    I discovered at my work that switching one of our wheelie bins to a recycling bin would save the company £400 a year. Senior management said no! They said that the (admittedly awful) cleaners wouldn’t be able to cope with emptying two different kinds of bins! So now I bring home the recycling from my department. It is very frustrating!

  3. Mrs Green says:

    @Jane: Jane, you point out a interesting thing to take into consideration. I know that some companies have ‘green ambassadors’; or similar to help co-ordinate recycling and other environmental issues and I think in many small companies passionate staff just end up taking things home to recycle 😉

    @Zoe Williams: Zoe, that sounds SO frustrating and I’m surprised the money saving aspect didn’t get your managers training their cleaning staff pretty quick!

  4. Jane says:

    @Mrs Green: Many Councils offer a much cheaper rate for large eurobins of recycling than for general waste.

  5. Jane says:

    I’ve been around an office which makes very little waste. They’ve really cut their paper use and with a mostly open plan office just have five bins/recycling bins around the pillars in the room ie not one to each person! They have a tap in the kitchen which provides both (well either/or) boiling or chilled water – so no plastic bottles to deal with – and a can crusher with a bin underneath. Now I’ve pondered over the can crusher as I reckon it is just as easy to use a foot BUT I think this perhaps should be considered a stress-buster! Interestingly when I questioned who had put the cola can in the office ordinary bin there they all blamed someone else but when I questioned who could have squashed the can first they all suddenly claimed responsibility! I’ve ordered a can crusher – so will they try it as a novelty and just get on with using it? Or will they have to show the superiority of man over the machine?

  6. Mrs Green says:

    @Jane: 😀 you certainly have your colleagues thinking about things there Jane. It sounds like lots of happening to reduce waste. What a great story. Good luck with the crusher – I’d definitely use it.

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