Reverse Your Thinking

The EPA estimates the workplace generates 40 percent of all waste. If this does not sound scary enough, the Clean Air Council states that each person in the U.S. makes 4.39 pounds of trash per day. That means nearly 2 pounds of that trash is generated on the job.

Consider starting a recycling program at your workplace.

It sure sounds sensible to get started on a recycling program, doesn’t it?

There are several important steps to create a “greener” park district or agency:

1. Determine whether the district or agency will financially support a commercial-recycling effort.

2. Create a “green team” and gain employee support, including the janitorial staff.

3. Contact the waste hauler for special instructions.

4. Track results and record your success.

5. Consider miscellaneous materials.

6. Get started today!

Financial Support

The first step is to investigate whether the agency will help. It takes a little extra time, sometimes a little extra money and more often than not, more than a little extra money. Find out who will be contributing to the project.

Employee Support

Next, gather a small group of employees who are enthusiastic about the program. You probably know some fellow “greenies,” so a good start might be creating a “green team” to investigate recycling and the costs involved.

If both the agency and the team agree to proceed, you will need to nominate a champion … a recycling coordinator.

If you hold that role at home, you may be a good candidate. If so, understand that the same patience needed to educate employees is the same it took to train your children and spouse about recycling.

Arm the team with information about the importance of preventing recyclable materials from entering a landfill. Help fellow employees understand these materials are resources. Ask questions like, “What if we couldn’t make any more paper, soft drink bottles or plastic peanut-butter jars?” This will make the issue more realistic to them.

Be sure to gain the cooperation of the janitorial staff. Once materials are in the respective containers, the staff will be responsible for ensuring the materials get to the right dumpster or storage area.

The Waste Hauler

Contact the waste hauler to learn about its basic recycling program. Ask about “commingled or single-stream recycling,” in which recyclable materials are mixed as opposed to sorted in separate containers.

Ask what is accepted and whether recycling containers can (or will) be provided. There may also be specifics on the use of clear garbage bags so materials can be identified for recycling or trash.

If you are lucky, the municipality will have a Solid Waste Recycling specialist to assist in this process.

About 40 percent of all waste is generated at work.

Determine what is recyclable, as it varies across the country. Ask the waste hauler if you can “trust the triangle” (anything with a triangle on it goes in the recycling bin). Inside that triangle (or underneath), there is a number or letters identifying the type of material used to create it. However, the lid of the container may or may not be made of the same material, so examine the product carefully.

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