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Educating Your Workplace about Recycling

How Increasing Knowledge can lead to Increased Results

You've decided to take the plunge and set up a recycling program in your workplace. But now comes the hardest part – getting everyone educated and onboard. They say that knowledge is power, and that's no exception for recycling.

It's important to remember that not all employees will have the same knowledge or passion as you when it comes to recycling, so be patient as they learn the ins and outs of the new system. Recycling is complicated, so it's essential to properly educate your employees and meet them where they are at.

Clear communication is required for a successful recycling initiative. Staff should know what's expected of them, what the benefits are, and what company-wide goals are in place.

Teaching the basics

Most people will have a rudimentary understanding of recycling. Still, to ensure everyone is on the same page, it's important to start with the basics – where to recycle, what to recycle, and why it matters.

Ensure that your employees know the location of the bins, what goes in each of them, and what the larger company goals around recycling are.

To help keep your team up to date, check out our Recycling 101 series. These monthly emails are designed to offer recycling dos and don'ts, as well as tips and tricks for companies to provide to their employees. They will help slowly build on your team's knowledge without overwhelming them with a lot of information all at once.

Start with Onboarding

To make sure that all employees start out on the same page, host a company induction of the new system. You can use this time to explain why the change is happening, go over common materials and where they should be placed after use, and answer any questions your employees may have.

Educating your office on the importance of recycling can feel tedious if they don't understand the "why" of it all. When implementing and educating your office about the new recycling initiative, it's crucial to tie it into larger company goals. If your organisation has or is developing a sustainability policy, share that with your team. Educating your staff about other sustainability issues within the business will help feed into the importance of recycling.

Once all the current employees are up to speed, ensure this onboarding becomes a regular part of new hires' onboarding as well.

Have Clear Signage

After inducting your company, make sure there is clear signage near the bins that address all the major trash types for your office. This should be what you went over in the induction, as most people won't remember it on a daily basis. You can even get creative with your posters, as Work Inc did.

Vertical AU 2 Clear signage helps people feel confident in their recycling.

Address Common Contaminates

Once the system is in place, do regular waste audits to track your waste diversion goals and uncover common contaminants. For example, do your employees regularly throw compostable packaging in the recycle bins or place recyclables in the landfill bin? You won't know where the knowledge gaps are unless you actively seek them out. Knowing these contaminants can help you address them better. Send communications about what you find, why those are wrong, and which is the best bin to place them in.

Resources for Ongoing Success

After your system is up and running, the work isn't done. Ongoing education, as well as inducting new staff when they start, will be important to maintain a functioning system. Ensure resources are available for further questions and plan to communicate changes, additional stream introductions, or industry information related to waste management. If you have a green team, this is an excellent thing for them to facilitate so that they can act as a knowledge hub for any ongoing questions.

You can also link sources and articles about waste management, the importance of a circular economy, and understanding carbon, which can help add valuable education about global issues. These can be shared via email, Slack, Teams, or whatever platform works best for your organisation. Wherever you share them, allow for ongoing discussions about what the articles mean, how it impacts your business, and why it's essential.

The Bigger Picture

By implementing these elements, your organisation will become recycling champs. But the work isn't done. Teach staff about the importance of reporting on waste and the impact waste diversion has on the environment.

If possible, 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.

You don't have to educate everyone all at once. Gradually introducing new concepts and getting people invested will lead to better results than throwing everything at them at all once. It doesn't always need to be perfect, but as long as your office continues to learn and engage with recycling, change will happen.

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