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How to educate your team about recycling

So you’re thinking about your new initiative, and now you’re wondering: how can I educate my team about recycling?

Firstly, make sure management are on board. Enable those who help run your space have their say – that’s your facility managers, property managers, waste service providers, and cleaners, who oversee the day-to-day of your waste management and will be instrumental in positive change.

Good staff knowledge is a necessity for success. We would recommend involving your employees as early as possible; this way they’ll have a clear, ongoing idea of what’s happening and why your space is changing. Successful communication is required for a successful recycling initiative, in regards to what’s expected of staff, what the environmental impact of your new system is, and what more you could be doing.

The basics

Be clear with the instructions for your recycling system. To be most effective when starting out, we would suggest clear and consistent messaging in your educative signage. Inducting your staff could be helpful too, with a powerpoint presentation for your staff to empower them to fully understand how to use and utilise your new recycling bins.

Questions to ask yourself:

- Do my team understand the main features of my recycling system?

- Can they open and close the bins?

- Are they happy with your approach to recycling?

Could you hold lunch-time talks, meetings or information sessions about how to reduce your waste? Also, if you have elected to use precyclers in place of individual desk bins, educate your staff on how they can efficiently use them.

Location of your bins

Ensure your team know where the bins will be in your buildings. Do they understand, for example, that you’ve placed an Organics bin by your coffee machine in order for coffee grounds to be then later composted? Is there a Paper recycling bin by your printer that will help divert this material from landfill? Once they understand how recycling bins will work within their own personal flow through your space, they’ll be more aware of and accountable for their own actions.

What can be recycled?

The most important way to educate your team? That would be facilitating your team to understand what types of waste can and can’t be recycled. With more knowledge comes less contamination, which means less recyclables entering the wrong waste streams.

Can posters be used to help your staff learn what can and can’t go in your bins? Are you able to give educational materials to people that may be interested in how to dispose of other specialist materials, like batteries or mobile phones?

Tips to reduce, reuse, recycle

Regular team newsletters are a useful tool for educating your team about things they might not know about recycling. Communications should be interesting, and inundating your staff with emails should be avoided. Can you create an internal forum or Slack channel that will allow your team to share other tips and tricks between them?

Who should your team ask questions to?

When it comes to your initiative, who’s responsible for what? Everyone should know the duties of their colleagues, and who they can go to if they have questions about recycling.

What does the future look like?

Transparency is a key value for a successful recycling initiative. Staff should have a clear, efficient way of providing feedback and should be kept up-to-date with what’s happening, what’s coming up, and what’s expected of them. This messaging should be positive and celebratory if possible, to build and not lose momentum with your goals.

Where does recycling go?

Arrange a tour of a landfill site, or organise your team to be able to see how your cleaners separate the recycling. This way, they’ll have a physical understanding of their power in diverting waste.

Setting new targets

It’s important to share with your team when you’ve reached your sustainability goals, but what happens after that? Can your team educate you in other ways you could be achieving more? Incentives for improvement could be provided here.

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