How To Start A Recycling Program

  • Obtain Support from The Top: Depending on whom you are, this may include the landlord or property manager, owner or boss, and managers. If you are an office within a larger office building, contact the building manager. They may work with you to set up a building-wide program or these services may already exist. Money can be saved on disposal costs by diverting materials from the trash.

  • Enlist Support from Maintenance Staff: When implementing a recycle program, make sure maintenance staff is on board to ensure the recyclable materials are delivered to the correct collection bin. Make sure to include facilities, janitorial, and food-service employees as the new recycling program will directly affect these departments. If your janitorial service is separate from your organization, make sure you schedule a meeting with the individuals or their supervisors to explain the changes about to occur. Organize a schedule and timeline for working to implement the recycling program together.

  • Get Additional Support: Organize a "Green Team" within your organization to help with training and implementation of the recycling program. Seek out employees that represent a cross-section of your organization.

  • Conduct a Waste Assessment: With your "Green Team", discuss what specific materials your organization generates and roughly how much. Perform a simple waste assessment by walking through the entire business and noting what is in the trash and where. For example, a copy room will have mainly paper and little employee waste while a cafeteria or restaurant will have a large amount of food and beverage containers, including cardboard. Estimate how much of each recyclable material is being generated.

  • If you have a high amount of material not listed as recyclable in our Single-Stream Recycling Guide, you may be able to find another way of keeping it out of the landfill. The Sonoma County Eco-Desk site is very helpful in dealing with business recyclables and hazardous wastes: www.recyclenow.org/, or visit the Marin County Recycling Guide at www.marinrecycles.org/recycling_guide.cfm. If your business generates a high amount of Construction/Demolition materials (C&D) and is using large bins or debris boxes, you can bypass tonnage fees by segregating the materials. Call us to find out more about C&D Recycling.

  • Plan the Pilot Recycling Program: After conducting the waste assessment, your "Green Team" will have a good idea about the recyclables within your organizations waste stream. For example, paper makes up 50% or more of an office businesses waste stream. In this case, the business would focus on recycling paper and cardboard first. Once this program is established and all members of the organization have been properly trained, the "Green Team" can work together to start a lunch-time and/or employee desk recycling program to include beverage and food containers. By starting small, you won't overwhelm the employees and will be able to effectively measure the success of your initial recycling program.

  • Hauling Options: If your business does not already have a free recycling bin next to the external garbage bins, call customer service and order one. Explain to a customer service representative your estimates on how much recyclables your business generates. This will help them determine exactly what size bin you will need.

  • Acquire Internal Recycling Containers: Now your team needs to find out how many internal recycling containers your business will need to collect the recyclables to put in the outdoor dumpster or can. All recycling containers should be placed next to the regular trash cans and labeled appropriately. This will increase the amount recycled and decrease garbage going in those bins. You can visit your local department store such as Target or Office Depot and find some nice inexpensive options. A good idea: Choose a specific color for your recycling containers. At Ratto, most of our recycling bins are blue. The Ratto Group can provide you with simple wall guides that show single-stream recyclable materials, as well as free stickers for your bins.

  • Publicize! Now you are ready to start the recycling awareness campaign within your organization. Work with your "Green Team" to organize a "Kick-Off" event such as a large staff meeting or lunch-time presentation. Send a memo to all staff about the new happenings. Give our Single-Stream Recycling Guide to all employees to refer to while at their desk. If your business has a newsletter, include an article about the new employee recycling program.

  • Promote Your Success: Continue to meet with the "Green Team" to discuss how the current recycling program is going and look for ways to improve. Make sure everyone is aware of the benefits, such as cost-savings in the garbage bill and the increased rate of recyclable materials. Once your program has proven successful, the "Green Team" can work to include more recyclables and purchase more recycling containers to use within the cafeterias, break-rooms, or at individual desks. Reward employees or departments that are doing a good job. Invite the media! They love to report on positive efforts businesses are doing.

  • Continue to Work Towards Waste Reduction: Post "Waste-Reduction" tips around the office. Invest some time in learning more about waste reduction and how much you can contribute to this effort.

  • *A Good Resource: The Ratto Group has trained and knowledgeable staff who will work with you on developing your recycling program, any step of the way. They can make site visits to help you analyze your waste stream, discuss your company's specific options, make recommendations for containers and placement, provide stickers and signage for containers, and much more for absolutely free. To get in touch with a Ratto Recycling Outreach & Education Representative, call your local customer service number and request Recycling Outreach or email greenteam@unicycler.com