Ever since people became aware of the need to protect the environment and conserve natural resources, there’s been a concerted effort worldwide to practice the 3Rs – Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Of the three, office recycling has seen the most application in business settings. The reason for this is, while Reducing and Reusing can be done in homes heavily and frequently, it is not as easy to do so within business premises.
The feasibility and effectiveness of Reducing and Reusing in a place of work is highly dependent on the industry to which any given kind of business belongs. For example, in a hospital, it is impossible and even illegal to recycle syringes. In a hotel, it is impossible to reduce the number of pillows and pillowcases, from what is standard in their industry. As such, the fallback focus of many kinds of businesses lies in Recycling.
Difference Between Reusing and Recycling
It’s important to first discuss the difference between Reusing and Recycling. Reusing involves the repeated utilization of any given object or material. For example, if you use plastic spoons and forks in the office, and you don’t throw them away after eating because you will wash them and use them again next time you eat, then you are Reusing. However, if you collect all the used plastic items in the office and send them over to a special place where they can clean, process, and purify all the plastic and form it into other products, then you have practiced Recycling.
What to Recycle
All items that can be reused can also be recycled, but not all items that can be recycled can also be reused. Examples of items that are both reusable and recyclable include:
- old newspapers, sheets of paper, paper wrapping materials
Examples of items that are only recyclable, but not reusable (for their original purpose) include telephone directories that are several years old and heavily soiled Styrofoam packs, stained with food coloring.
Office Recycling Tips
Here are five easy to remember recycling tips that can be done in office buildings, as well as in banks, industrial facilities, medical and health institutions, schools, churches, auto dealerships, and other businesses:
- See to it that all recyclable containers used during meetings, or bought by employees from delivery shops, are emptied of leftovers (e.g., food, liquids) before getting segregated and stored.
- Make sure that the items for recycling are stored in separate containers for each kind or material. For example, do not mix plastics with metal recyclables.
- Gather all kinds of recyclable paper used in the office and segregate according to their cleanliness or “purity” – this makes it easier to recycle them.
- Check out all electronics at your place of work that have been outmoded, or replaced because of malfunctions or damages. Separate big computers from smaller items such as fax machines, cell phones and the like.
- Printer cartridges, worn-out tires from the company car pool, and other materials that are often thrown away without much thought can also be recycled. Assign someone from the different departments of your office and coordinate with them weekly regarding your recycling plans.
Developing an office recycling can be a tricky matter, especially if you and your employees are new at it. And, be sure you ask your janitorial services company to assist you in carrying out a recycling program by showing them where your bins are located — and having all containers properly labeled. A successful office recycling program is a team effort!