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Changing recycling behaviours in the workplace

Recycling and waste are among the most talked about issues in the UK at the moment; though the only thing people seem to agree about is that we can’t keep going the way we are currently. However, organisations have the opportunity to have a significant impact as most people recycle at home but are less likely to in the workplace.

For example, a company in the UK, who shall remain nameless, found that they were looking 88 kilograms of recycling a day with desk bins, which adds up to over 32 tonnes a year. They found that over 20% of what was in their general waste bins was food. Food waste is a significant contributor to global greenhouse gases, though it can be a resource when it’s collected and sent for commercial composting to create nutrient dense fertilizer.

For an organisation, there are a multitude of benefits that can come from an effective recycling solution, in addition to improving their green credentials. A considered recycling system can save you time, money and recyclables, while also improving your Corporate Social Responsibility; this is particularly important as customers and potential employees are increasingly prioritising organisations that are reducing their impact.

One of the greatest barriers to effective recycling in the workplace is that the way we design our spaces has changed rapidly from closed offices and cubicles to open plan spaces; but bins and recycling systems have remained the same. Traditional options such as desk bins or bins hidden in cupboards allow individuals to place all of their waste into one space discreetly.

Let’s be honest here, recycling takes a certain amount of personal motivation, from educating ourselves to simply getting up from our desks to recycle. Further, at work many of the factors that encourage individuals to recycle at home are missing at work such as; the financial benefits of reducing the cost of waste disposal through recycling, a constant stream of feedback or awareness, control over the location of bins and often someone that encourages or enforces the correct behaviours.

How to achieve results
We believe that to have the greatest impact on their recycling rates organisations need to consider; how their space is laid out and what they need to change to make recycling more convenient than general waste options, and how they motivate individuals to change their behaviour.

Organisations should bring recycling and waste bins out into the open-plan design of modern spaces, while removing desk bins and bins that are hidden away. To have the greatest success the bins should complement the modern aesthetics and become a featured part of office design
This means that when an individual needs to dispose of an item each recycling and waste option is available to them – making it more convenient than general waste options. Further, when an individual is out in the open where others can see them, they’re more likely to consider where their waste goes, even subconsciously.

To get employee buy in, the organisation needs to make it clear that recycling and sustainability are a priority. The visible bins will become a statement of your organisation’s commitment but to maximise results you should measure your waste and recycling.

By using on-going measuring and reporting you can easily identify and action any recurring issues to ensure you’re getting the best results possible, provide a continuous feedback loop to your employees and in a time where greenwashing is more prevalent than ever – provide evidence that you’re making a difference.

Method’s well designed bins and knowledgeable team have helped leading organisations around the world to implement effective recycling systems with their award-winning bins. Including, Foster + Partners, the Sydney Cricket Ground and The Office Group.

Get in touch to find out how they can help you to make a difference in your workplace – methodrecycling.com.

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