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8 Steps to a Successful Recycling System

Getting Your Company in on Recycling

Does your office have a recycling program that needs an overhaul? Or maybe it’s in the works, but you haven’t quite implemented it yet? A successful recycling program can not only help you reach your sustainability goals, but also save your business money in the long term.

Luckily for you, here at Method we know a great deal about recycling and understand what works best when setting up a new recycling system. Over the years, our amazing team has helped leading organisations implement successful recycling programs. These include:

We’ve learned a lot working with them and have distilled the information into eight steps to help your organisation implement a successful recycling system.

Step 1: Set up a Green Team

The first step to ensuring success is to recruit passionate employees to lead the way on recycling. You can do this by setting up a green team, which will help make sure that nothing falls through the cracks and that everything is organised and orderly.

The green team will be charged with seeing this system through from start to finish, and acting as a knowledge base for the rest of the organisation. By knowing exactly who to go to with questions, your employees will be better suited for the task at hand.

Step 2: Practice Waste Prevention

Before you start recycling, it’s important to remember the old adage “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” Recycling what you already have is great, but the real challenge is to reducing waste in your workplace altogether. Are there ways your office could reduce the need for materials? This could include printing less, sharing office supplies, and switching paper towels in the kitchen with washable tea towels.

At Method, we strive to reduce our waste in every aspect of our workplace. We found the kitchen to be the biggest area of waste and worked to go waste-free with office lunches. Now, we have reusable containers for staff to take for lunch, organise catering with companies willing to use crockery instead of single-use and give all new employees a reusable coffee cup as part of their onboarding.

Step 3: Determine Your Waste Streams

What waste and recycling streams do you collect in your workplace? Is there a lot of compostable packaging? Soft plastics? Glass? Your best bet is to complete a DIY waste audit and assess exactly where your organisation is at.

Once you’ve completed that, you’ll know what you’re producing and what streams you need. Generally, it’s good to have bins for landfill, organics, and recycling (either co-mingled or separate). From there you can determine if your office has other unique needs (batteries, soft plastics, etc) that you can also implement.

Alternatively, use our solutions finder that will find the streams and bins you need with a few simple questions.

Step 4: Engage with your Wider Team

Human-centred design is the best route to success. Talk to as many employees as possible to see how the recycling and waste system needs to work from them. Engaging your employees can often be the hardest hurdle to surpass, but by understanding the level of knowledge and commitment your employees have, you can create the best possible outcomes.

Step 5: Select a Contractor/Hauler

After you’ve determined what you need, it’s important to pick out a waste provider. Depending on your business and the building, this may not completely be your decision, but choosing a waste provider that balances your priority can help make your recycling more successful.

Once you’ve made your decision, work with your provider to understand what they do and don’t accept, and learn exactly where your collections go.

Catch 20 L AU 6 20L bin waste streams

Step 6: Set Up the Stations

After you’ve determined what your waste provider can collect, determine the best way to put the bins in your office. You will need your in-office bins, as well skip bins that are collected by your waste provider.

In the office space, we’ve found that open-plan recycling works well as it increases visibility and accountability, but it's important to find the right solution for your office space. Our detailed bin placement guide can help you determine how many bins you need and the best place to put them within the space.

You will also need to work with your cleaning crew to determine how frequently they are emptied and where the skip bins are located to ensure that the waste is properly sorted for the waste collectors. The cleaners are an integral part of the recycling process, so its important to keep them informed and involved in this process.

BINS 7487 Recycling station with vertical signage

Step 7: Facilitate Outreach and Education

Education is the greatest tool for success when it comes to recycling. After you’ve gotten your set-up in place, establish clear communication across the business. You can use our series “Recycling 101” to help further educate your company about the ins and outs of recycling.

We’ve also found great success using clear recycling bin signs that attach easily to your stations, so employees never have to guess where their waste goes. This helps reduce contamination and means that employees are more likely to participate.

Step 8: Monitor and Evaluate the Recycling Program

As with any goal a company sets, having a way to track and measure progress is crucial. Recycling is no exception. Most employees probably recycle at home, but getting them to do so in the office can be a challenge. The best way to ensure you’re succeeding is to implement an ongoing measurement and assessment plan.

Be open and transparent about the process and any new changes as they’re implemented, and seek regular feedback to understand what’s working and what’s not. You can then make adjustments as needed to get the results you want. Celebrate wins as they happen and recognise change is an ongoing process.

Setting up any new system in the workplace can be a long and arduous process. But by using these eight steps, we hope you find the process easier to tackle and understand.

If you’re looking for more information about how to be successful in office recycling, you can find more resources here. Or if you’re in Australia and want to know how Method can help in your workplace, you can get in touch with one of our awesome business managers Sebastian and Dan.

Ready to get a successful recycling system in place?

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