Starting a Recycling Program

Every business should consider setting up a recycling program to cut down on waste and the overhead of disposal. Setting up recycling is a simple matter of organization and commitment. Take the initiative and get a program started in your business.

CalRecycle’s business waste reduction page includes resources to get you going.

Industry-specific fact sheets and case studies hone in on issues and successes.

Seven Tips for Starting a Recycling Program

  1. Perform a waste assessment. Survey what recyclable materials are discarded and where. Walk through your office and grounds and record what types of waste are discarded in each area. This walk-through lets you figure out what containers you’ll need.
    • Copiers, Printers, Fax Stations – office paper, mixed paper, toner cartridges, transparencies
    • Work Stations – office paper, mixed paper, cardboard, cans, bottles, books
    • Food service areas – glass, metal, cans, plastic containers, cardboard (food waste can be separated and composted; grease and oil may be converted into biodiesel)
    • Outdoor & Public areas – newspaper, magazines, bottles, cans
    • Computer Support – computers, monitors, cables, other electronics
  2. Setup Recycling Containers. Based on the results of the waste assessment, put recycling containers for each material in each area. To begin, you might want to focus your efforts where you have found the most waste. For laser paper, consider setting up a system for printing drafts on second sides.
  3. Label Your Containers. Location and good labeling are critical to every recycling program. Be sure that containers are well-marked. For public areas, you might want to consider special containers that indicate the type of recyclable with a hole or a slot. This will reinforce the goals of your program and reduce contamination (mixing) of recyclables.
  4. Organize Collection. Once you know what will be collected and where, get your custodial staff and groundskeepers involved. Have a meeting to explain to them the importance of recycling and to answer their questions. Show them where to locate new containers, how to collect waste separately, and where to take separated materials.
  5. Publicize Your Project. Once your containers, labels, and collection procedures are in place, communicate your program to managers and employees. You might consider a kick-off party for managers and supervisors. For staff, consider talking to each department or work group. You might also consider discussing recycling at all-company meetings. But one presentation is not enough. Be sure to reinforce the goals, principles, and procedures of your program. This will ensure that your procedures are being followed, will help people remain interested, and provide a forum for questions and new solutions. You can also put information or notices in e-mail, on the company’s internal web site, or in the company newsletter.
  6. Monitor Your Results. Create a system for keeping track of the amount of materials your program collects. This will help you know you’re receiving proper compensation for your materials and will help you take appropriate action if volumes decrease. Be sure to get your custodial staff involved in this process, and develop a feedback system so that they can let you know where contamination is a problem.
  7. Make Recycling Part of Orientation. Include recycling information in your orientation for new employees. Be sure that your custodial staff or provider makes recycling part of their orientation as well.