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How to Engage Employees with Recycling at Work

Practical tips to get the most out of your office recycling program

Creating awareness and promoting engagement can be huge hurdles to overcome when implementing a recycling program at your workplace. While you may be passionate about recycling, many of your employees may not be. Luckily, by engaging with them, learning from them, and making recycling part of company culture, you can ensure your initiatives are a success. Check out our tips for engaging with your employees when it comes to recycling.

1. Get them Involved Early

We know that people are more likely to engage if the system is clear and they understand how it works. That’s why we recommend involving your employees as early as possible in the process; that way they’ll have a clear, ongoing idea of what’s happening and why the space is changing. They can also be actively involved in the goal-setting process, which can lead to a greater motivation to participate.

2. Communicate Regularly

People are more likely to care if they see that sustainable action is important to the leadership team within your company. Make sure your leadership team is visibly involved in your recycling initiatives, as it demonstrates a long term commitment to sustainable change. Find ways to introduce the topic of recycling into regular communications within your workplace. Some ways to do this include:

  • Sending regular team newsletters with things they might not know about recycling, such as our Recycling 101 series.
  • Hosting quarterly “lunch and learn”s, roundtable discussions, or informal meet-ups to allow people to voice concerns, share ideas, and collaborate.
  • Creating a Green Team to facilitate initiatives, coordinate fun events, and share successes.
  • Placing clear posters and signage around the office with recycling dos and don’ts.
  • Starting a Slack channel where employees can ask questions and share tips about recycling.

However you choose to communicate with your staff, do it with purpose. Communications should be interesting, relevant, and concise, without inundating staff with too much information.

3. Host Events

To get everyone to participate in sustainability efforts, try hosting weekly, monthly, or annual events at your workplace. You could initiate “Waste-Free Wednesdays” where all staff are encouraged to go without waste for a day, whether that’s through bringing their lunch in reusable containers or ditching the single-use coffee cups. Or take your events external. Have your team volunteer for a beach clean up or tree planting event in your community. It’s a great way to encourage sustainability and team-building within your organisation.

Events, whether once a week or once a year, are a great reminder for people to consider the behaviours they engage in every day. It also helps to shake up the routine.

4. Make it Fun

Find ways to make recycling competitive in your workplace by introducing friendly incentives. You can have floors compete against each other to produce the least amount of waste, or least amount of contamination. You could also introduce individual challenges like not using takeaway coffee cups or plastic bottles for a week, a month, or longer.

And with any good competition, make sure there is a clear timeframe, a way to track progress, and a fun reward. The winners could get a free Zero Waste Kit or a bonus to go towards a team lunch, along with coveted bragging rights. This helps open up conversations about recycling in the workplace and actively engages staff in their own waste behaviours.

5. Ask for Feedback

Transparency is a key part of a successful recycling initiative. Staff should have a clear, efficient way of providing feedback on the systems, the communications, and any issues. If something is not working, find solutions and ask for ideas from the team, which helps them feel part of the conversation and change.

When engaging your staff, it’s essential to not only get feedback from your direct employees but from the cleaning and facilities staff as well, as introducing a new system may impact their roles. Keep an open dialogue and ensure that any educational materials you use are also passed along.

6. Set New Goals

When goals have been reached, it’s important to share them with the wider company. This will maintain momentum and help incentivise the company to set further goals. It’s great to start small with goals and snowball them into bigger and bigger initiatives over time. As knowledge and passion around waste diversion grow, your goals will too.

Engaging your team should be fun, hands-on, and informative. People want to understand new systems and are willing to participate in them if there are clear reasons and open communication. With these tips in mind, go forth and recycle.

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