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Recycling at work. What’s the point?

January 27 2015

For many of us, our workplace is where we spend the majority of our time during the working week.

Typically a day can look a bit like this:

8.15 am Arrive and dump morning Metro newspaper and takeaway coffee cup in the nearest bin
8.20 am Make/Eat breakfast – dispose of leftover food and packaging

10.25 am Make tea and throw tea bags into general waste

11.15 Print off notes for meeting and other random support documents because the printer is on your desk, too busy to think of the environmental cost as running late

1.00 pm Break for lunch – or rather sit at the desk and eat takeaway – throw it in the bin below your feet

2.50 pm – 5.30 pm Print off more documents

5.34 pm look at the time, swear because you might miss the train and leave PC on as you run out of the door

Face it. We’re there a long time, aren’t we? And we are often too busy to think of the environment or it’s someone else’s job isn’t it to sort out the bins?

Wrong. We are all responsible.

You are probably used to recycling at home, that’s what the green bin’s for right? So why not start recycling at work and as this becomes a part of your routine at work then you will be in a better position to pass your tips on to your colleagues and encourage them to adopt the same recycling habits.

Take reading this as step number one in you influencing your workplace’s green credentials. We are all familiar with the phrase – lead by example and with recycling it is easy to grasp the nettle by adopting these very easy everyday steps:

• Print only what you need
• Print on both sides of the paper, especially the less important documents. This practice helps to reduce paper usage and waste by 50%
• Reduce the use of paper by sending information or documents via the email, rather than hard copy files or faxes.
• Make use of electronic posters and banners, instead of paper ones.
• Share newspapers and magazines between units and divisions, rather than providing a set for each unit.
• Make use of reusable porcelain or metal mugs for coffee breaks, instead of disposable or Styrofoam ones.
• If you bring lunch in, bring your lunch in reusable containers rather than plastic bags that must be discarded after a single-use.

The main culprits

Look around your desk and note the main materials that are used in the workplace. For example, at many offices, it is paper. It’s everywhere: printed paper, unwanted files and notes, used envelopes, unwanted magazines and newspapers, packaging, cardboard boxes.

IT waste is set to rise. We are constantly looking to upgrade to the latest technology, tablets are outdating laptops, operating systems are being introduced all the time, IT equipment is becoming obsolete and for those businesses who are not in the know, they often get dumped in a corner and little is done with them. But computer recycling is now big business. Everything has a scrap value and some companies claim that they specialise in IT recycling. However, Ucan Recycling specialises in computer recycling and more importantly the reuse of old computers.

Printer toner cartridges – again these can be recycled and by choosing a supplier with a buyback recycling scheme is a sure way to go.

Old company mobile phones – these are getting upgraded or lost and replaced all the time, so don’t just throw the old one away or put them in the cupboard to form a mobile mountain, there are schemes such as Oxfam

If your workplace does not have any recycling bins, but your home does, take a little effort to take home the item and recycle it that way. Your little effort counts in a big way toward a cleaner and healthier environment.

The “Do they really need to be on?” Test

Much energy is used to operate offices and other work stations in many organisations. You can do your part to save energy by switching off lights especially in low traffic areas such as meeting rooms, kitchens and restrooms. Does the air-conditioning really need to be on – could you not just open a window? Similarly, if your heating is still on full blast in June because you don’t know where the boiler is then it is time to find it! Not only is it burning useful resources but it is costing your employer money – money that could otherwise be profit. Do you see what I’m saying? And always, always, always turn off your personal computers when they are not in use. Remind those around you to do the same!

If you are in procurement then it pays to be savvier when it comes to choosing your waste disposal service – look at their green credentials do they practice what you preach? Nowadays, the organisations and suppliers that you choose to do business with can reflect on your brand. Because company Environmental Policies within companies are now as standard as Health and Safety practices it is just as important with who you choose to do business with.
For instance, if you were to Google one of the key search terms: computer recycling, IT recycling, laptop recycling, recycling computers you would get page after page of companies promising to collect your Electronic Waste but you have to be sure you are dealing with a genuine company. Ucan Recycling aims to divert as much as possible out of landfill by reusing as much IT waste as possible. We have a specialised reuse department where we employ techy geeks who know what to look for and can update and repair old kit and remarket it.
Some simple reuse ideas for your workplace could include:

• Reuse scrap paper for taking notes – I’m forever printing off things in the wrong format in excel (that is when I HAVE to print anything off of course;o) )
• Reuse cardboard or metal boxes for storage purposes at the workplace
• Reuse envelopes and jiffy bags: it is more acceptable now to send out other mail with new labels on a previously used envelope or mailbag – I believe eBay has helped with this!
• Purchase paper products that are made of recycled paper, such as printing paper, note pads, business cards and even paper towels, they might be more expensive but think about the environmental cost of the cheaper more bleached options
• Keep a “Bag for Life” reusable shopping bag at your work station. It would come in handy if you need to do any shopping during lunch break or after work.
• To save you time, keep a small recycling box handy at your work station. That way, you need only head for the office recycling bins when your recycling box is full.
For information on our FREE collection service for your IT disposal call the team on 0113 242 4421 or for Asset Management speak to Dan Nelson or Rob Seal