The Whys and Hows of Paper Recycling and Using Recycled Paper in the Workplace


A lot has been written about the greening of American workplaces, but the unfortunate fact remains that many U.S. companies continue to be huge contributors to environmental destruction, pollution, and climate change. Many of those contributions are in the form of discarded paper.



But why does saving trees matter, and why should companies care? Let's take a look at the many benefits of using recycled paper, and how to get in on the action by initiating a paper recycling program at your office.


When your office uses recycled paper, you help promote a more sustainable corporate climate for decades to come. Among other benefits, recycling paper and using recycled paper may:

  • help slow the rate at which our landfills are filling up and the amount of greenhouse gases generated by them
  • help decrease the amount of trees being cut down for paper production and maintain healthier forests, thereby maintaining a healthier planet overall
  • help save energy
  • help prevent water and air pollution



Not only does investing in recycled paper provide your office with some immediate benefits, but it's also simply the right thing to do when it comes to preserving the natural resources relied on by everyone.


Take these steps to start an office paper recycling program

Assign a recycling coordinator or committee. Effective recycling will only happen if someone takes responsibility for maintaining the program. Thus, the first step in developing an office paper recycling program is to assign a willing team member (or members) to the role of recycling coordinator(s).


Conduct an audit. Spend a week keeping track of how much paper the office currently tosses out in order to determine the volume of paper your recycling program will need to manage. Also pay attention to where paper is thrown away and any other patterns related to team members' paper usage habits.


Research collection options. Some businesses may have curbside recycling pickup, while others will need to recruit the services of a dedicated paper recycling company or a waste management company equipped to recycle paper. Research your options—including volume requirements, paper type restrictions, and separation requirements for paper types—and choose the best option. If your existing waste removal service can handle recycling, make sure its employees are trained to keep waste and recycling separate. If you can't locate any local collection options, your next best bet is to research nearby drop-off locations.


Distribute collection bins. You may want to provide employees with individual desk-sized bins. At the very least, plan to place community bins in centralized areas, particularly those spots where lots of paper is thrown away. You may also need to invest in a larger collection bin. Make sure every bin is clearly labeled with a list of acceptable and unacceptable paper goods. This will help ensure that products meant for recycling aren't contaminated with products that can't be recycled.


Choose the right products. Your recycling program will have a greater impact if you commit to purchasing products that can be recycled in the first place. Coordinate with the office manager to ensure new paper products can be recycled in your municipality.


Engage the team. The success of your recycling program will hinge on participation from team members, so it's critical to clearly communicate with and engage your colleagues. To that end, make sure you announce the program to every single team member, clearly outline expectations when it comes to participation, and share the reasons for the program so they understand its importance and impact. Keep the team updated about the program's progress, and motivate everyone by letting them know when you hit milestones. It's also valuable to solicit team members' input about how the program could be improved.


Don't limit yourself to paper. Once your recycling program is in full swing, consider expanding it: Everything from electronics to aluminum cans and even ink and toner cartridges can be recycled. Each new item you recycle will further reduce your office's carbon footprint, so be as ambitious as possible.


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TAGS:Paper recycling, sustainability, Recycling, green living

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