In setting up a successful recycling program in your office building, you need to determine what kind of program will work in your facility. You should first analyze your options. For example, would a mixed paper program be preferable to a white paper/newspaper/cardboard program? Knowing your facility will help you to decide which program best suits your needs.
As much as 93% of all office waste is paper, most of it recyclable. Recycling of high grade office paper is required in commercial establishments located in mandated municipalities in Pennsylvania.
FACTS ABOUT OFFICE PAPER
- 77% of paper waste generated in offices is recyclable.
- Typical business offices generate about 1.5 pounds of waste paper per employee each day. Financial businesses generate more than two pounds per employee daily.
- Nearly half of typical office paper waste is high grade office paper.
- It is possible to achieve significant reduction in the cost of buying office paper by reducing paper use and reusing paper where possible.
- Eliminating office paper from your waste may reduce your waste bill by as much as 50%.
- Recycling one ton of paper typically saves about 6.7 cubic yards of landfill space. A cubic yard of stacked office paper weighs about 380 pounds. Cost savings may be estimated by multiplying the tons recycled by 6.7 times the cost per cubic yard for waste disposal (if by volume) or by cost per ton (if by weight).
- Commercial and residential paper waste accounts for more than 40% of waste being landfilled. Eliminating this paper from our waste would nearly double the lives of current landfills.
RECYCLING OFFICE PAPER WASTE
Almost all types of paper used in the office can be recycled. It can be separated into various grades ranging from high to low. High-grade papers generally include but are not limited to white computer paper, bond, letterhead, and ledger. Lower grades may include mixed grades, file stock, ground wood papers, newsprint, and colored paper.
Mixed paper is generally considered low grade even if it contains high-grade paper. Easily identifiable high-grade papers (such as computer printout) should be kept separate if possible to take advantage of its higher market value.
Steps for Successful Recycling:
1. Set up appropriate recycling programs in administrative offices, food service areas and public areas. It is best to concentrate on areas that produce significant amounts of particular materials.
2. Walk through the facility noting what type of waste is discarded in each area. A walk-through will help you determine which types of bins are needed. Typical programs are likely to involve some of the following:
- Offices - paper, corrugated paper or cardboard, cans, bottles.
- Food service areas - glass, metal cans, plastic containers, corrugated paper, cardboard (make sure food waste is separated or that it goes down the garbage disposal).
- Public areas - newspaper, magazines, bottles, cans.
3. In placing bins, make sure that they achieve a balance between convenience and cluster. Bins should be close enough to where the waste is discarded so the people will use them, but not so widespread that people will trip over them. It is a good idea to talk to people who work in a particular area to determine exactly where bins should be placed.
4. Make sure that bins in public areas are well-marked. It is best to choose bins with specialized openings, such as a hole for cans or a slot for newspapers, for these areas.
5. Inform employees about proper recycling procedures. Issue a memo, throw a kick off party and explain any separation procedures when you distribute bins.
6. Set up a log book or a receipt system to record the volume of recyclables leaving the premises. This will enable you to receive proper compensation for your materials and to take appropriate action if volumes decrease.
7. Include recycling information in your orientation for new employees.
8. Explain the overall recycling program to your janitors, and use them as your eyes and ears. Have them inform you of any areas with major contamination problems and follow up with improved recycling education in these areas.
9. After policies have been established, train janitorial staff by showing them what to do with new bins, how to collect waste separately and where to bring separated materials. For a 24-hour operation, plan pick-ups on appropriate shifts so that you do not have a problem with overflowing bins.
10. Be sure that your grounds crew knows to keep yard waste separate from other waste.
11. Ask your waste hauler for advice about keeping recyclables and wet waste separate. Depending on the company's trucks and equipment, your hauler may want to give you separate containers for trash and recyclables.
12. Remind employees to keep food waste out of recycling containers and trash. Food waste should go down the garbage disposal or be handled separately from trash and recyclables.