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Why Do We Recycle More at Home Than Work?

Why Do Our Recycling Behaviours Change?

While most people make an effort to recycle at home, our behaviours can tend to change at work. This concept is interesting, as we are spending more and more time in the office.

We take a look at some of the reasons why individuals change their habits and what can be done to better facilitate recycling in the workplace.

For an organisation trying to achieve some lofty corporate social responsibility goals, this could be particularly helpful. Who knows, maybe you’ll become your workplace recycling champion!

For those who already have strong beliefs aligned with environmental and recycling causes, they are often going to be more effective at practising these behaviours in any space. However, for many, the disparity in behaviours begins as people are no longer acting in a personal setting with direct motivators, but rather within an organisation where they can feel they have little to no control over the facilities.

There are a number of factors that can impact this disconnect between home and work behaviours such as;

Financial Benefits/ Penalties

At home, we are motivated to recycle through the reduction of waste removal costs or to avoid penalties for incorrect waste disposal, such as fly tipping. At work, there is no personal financial gain to be made for making the extra effort to recycle.

Blue Black Box Large Size Only Council recycling schemes help households save significantly on waste disposal

Access to Recycling Facilities

Often in a home, there is a centralised area that contains the receptacles for rubbish and any recyclables that they separate. This makes it simple for the user to separate the waste without additional effort. Further, the more visible recycling bins are the more people are going to be reminded to recycle within a space, this is why we designed the Method bins with bold colours to be beautiful and aesthetically pleasing, but more importantly stand out within a space.

Comparatively, in an office, if the distance to the appropriate recycling stream is considerably further away they will be less inclined to make the extra effort. Desk bins, in particular, can encourage users to place all of their waste into one stream given the easy access. Read our desk bin versus Method case study to see how quickly the costs of desk bins can accumulate.


In the workplace individuals often have no feedback or awareness about the impact their personal habits have on environmental considerations, such as the quantity of waste produced or excess energy consumed. In comparison to at home where we can regularly see the trends in our power and waste use.

This lack of feedback or awareness of consumption can make individuals complacent, particularly as part of an organisation. To increase staff awareness you could consider completing a Waste Audit and ongoing monitoring to provide feedback for your staff, and you can even make a competition out of it to include personal or group rewards, find out how here.

Wasrre By Department Example An example of a departmental waste reduction competition to provide feedback on waste use

Encouragement / Enforcement

At home, there is often one or two people that are advocates for recycling for any of the reasons mentioned so far. They often encourage and enforce effective recycling behaviours within the household and continue to educate others.

This is similar in a workplace, individuals are going to be motivated to recycle if they see or are encouraged by others, particularly management, to practice effective recycling within the space. Further, if there is a ‘green team’ or set of communications that encourage individuals to recycle their waste and consider their environmental behaviours. These both add to the feeling of ‘being watched’ which can be an extremely powerful motivator and people tend to follow suit of those around them.

See how to educate your team about recycling here.


No matter where you are, knowledge and education is an important part of effective recycling. This can become increasingly complicated as often recycling at work and home have two different systems requiring individuals to place items in different places.

This confusion can lead to items that are placed in the wrong recycling bin, or placing more recyclables in the general waste. Therefore, workplace recycling should be easily understood at a glance and be the same throughout the facility, which is why Method bins include easy to understand graphics and colours to match the industry norms in your area.

Wotso April 2018 12 The Method bins complement the aesthetics at WOTSO

What now?

People are motivated to recycle at home and with a few simple changes, we can introduce systems that facilitate these behaviours at work. Simply by improving accessibility to recycling bins and removing easy single-stream options, we can make a significant improvement to these behaviours.

Check out our Successful Recycling Guide for a step by step guide on how to implement an effective recycling system in your workplace.

Find Out More

Want to learn more about Method Bins for your facility?

Find out more about the behaviour changing bins or contact us here.

Ready to improve workplace recycling?

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