How to Recycle in the Office

Recycling is one way to keep a clean and green workspace. Even the smallest offices produce plenty of paper, plastic, and other non-reusable materials. Anybody doing administrative work can tell you how fast toner and paper goes! You can help reduce the carbon footprint of your workplace by recycling the materials you no longer have use for and keeping office supplies out of your local landfill. In addition to recycling, it's also important to donate, sell, or give away office supplies you no longer want, instead of sending them to the dumpster.

Here are some ways you can recycle in your office:

Paper, plastic, glass, and can recycling
Place categorized recycling bins in the office. This will encourage employees to recycle paper, bottles and cans used throughout the workday. The bins can be labeled ‘bottles’ ‘cans’ ‘paper’ and even ‘compost’/‘organics’ for food waste. When bins are provided, employees will not have to save recyclables for recycling after work. Office staff should be informed about the recycling procedures of the office, as well as the importance of recycling. It's also important that you communicate with your janitorial service about the best means to recycle. You can request that the cleaner(s) keep recyclables and trash separate. Make sure to have an understanding of the recycling procedures for waste management provided to your building. Make an effort to presort your waste by placing recycling containers in a central place like the kitchen or copy room. Having designated bins for paper, cans and bottles will make it much easier and will encourage people to separate recyclables and reduce waste in the trash can, and ultimately the landfill.

Battery recycling
Single-use batteries, such as AA, AAA, and D batteries, are not commonly used in offices. However, battery recycling in the office can encourage workers to bring single-use batteries to work for recycling, This is a good way to ensure the batteries don't end up in the waste stream because employees won't have to take used batteries anywhere but the workplace they regularly travel to multiple times a week. You can use a small plastic container or cardboard box to collect the batteries and take them to a local facility that accepts batteries for recycling. You can also take batteries to retailers like The Home Depot and Staples.

Ink recycling
Printer ink recycling in the office has been made easy by recycling programs from ink and toner manufacturers. When it's time to change the toner or ink, all you have to do is remove the old one and place it in the packaging and box from the new one. A prepaid postage label may be in the box for you to fill out and place on the box for shipping. Some companies may require you to print the shipping label after creating an account. No cartridges in the landfill and no hassle when getting rid of used cartridges. Your office can also take used toner and ink cartridges into an office supply store (Office Depot, Staples) that allows you to turn in cartridges for rewards points.

E-recycling Recycling electronic waste or e-waste is simple and an important part of maintaining efficient office equipment. Before recycling, please consider donating or selling your electronic equipment. Broken electronics can even be repaired for reuse. Don’t worry about giving away computers with sensitive information. Hard drives can either be removed or erased to protect your information.

Look up e-recycling facilities in your county and state. You can also look into brands that have recycling programs. Dell has partnered with Goodwill for the Dell Reconnect program, which collects electronics of any condition and brand. Major retailers that offer e-recycling include Office Depot, Staples, Best Buy, and Apple. Properly recycling e-waste is our responsibility. We must ensure that printers, computers and other potentially hazardous products do not end up harming the environment in landfills and dump sites.

If you don’t already have a recycling program in your place of work, or would like to start recycling more and reduce waste, take the initiative to speak with the decision makers for waste management in your office and building. You can design your own recycling program or suggest the best program for the office.