Recycling now sits somewhere between tea drinking and stationary stealing as de rigeur office activities. Offices without a recycling scheme are now on a par with offices which still require their employees to wear ties: outdated, and a little bit frowned upon.
Research by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) found that over a third of businesses that recycle say it has improved their reputation within the local community – so for those who wish to create a more green image, recycling should be the first step.
For those on a tight budget, paper should be the main concern: it makes up between 60-80% of the average office’s waste, and is one of the easiest materials to recycle.
Costs can vary depending on what you wish to recycle, and what sort of container you plan to use. For example, at one company in Richmond, it costs a flat fee of around £100 a year, plus £2.50 each for sacks of coloured paper (white paper is free). The company may charge more depending on how big a container you want for your recycling and whether you wish to have the recycling collected, separated, and so on.
The best thing to do is to look at the WRAP website, which provides a free service to help businesses find a recycling company in their local area – just go to recycleathome.org.uk and type in your postcode.
Starting a recycling scheme
When you decide to implement a recycling scheme, there are a number of factors to consider. What do you need to recycle? Do you have the facilities to drop the waste off at a recycling plant, or do you need it collected? How much space do you have to store your waste before you recycle it?
One aspect to bear in mind is privacy: do you shred your own documents, or will you need the recycling company to do it for you? Speak to the company and find out if they offer padlocked bins, which prevent the contents from being rifled through by undesirables.
Duty of care
Every business has a legal duty of care for its waste, which means it has to take reasonable care to store waste safely and securely and prevent it from causing harm to people or the environment.
The rules mean the company who disposes of, recycles or transports your waste must have a waste carrier licence – unless you drop it off at the disposal site yourself. You must also keep records of it being collected or delivered, called a Waste Transfer Note. This should be stored for at least two years.
While recycling may seem like a lot of effort, the difference it can make to your business’s reputation, as well as your staff’s morale, is massive: in a recent report, almost nine in 10 workers said they would feel happier if their employer did more to encourage sustainability.
As William Sankey from the Ethical Company Organisation put it: “Businesses shouldn’t underestimate the impact their ethical behaviour has on their staff. A business with gives serious consideration to the environment is likely to be rewarded with a happier and more dedicated workforce.”