Perhaps you are looking to reduce the overall amount of waste produced in the office, increase recycling rates or nudge your employees toward sustainable habits by saving resources in the workplace. These changes are definitely possible, but they do not take place overnight. Use this article as a starting point to building sustainable practices at work.
Intentional bin placement
By now, most of us are no strangers to recycling and its importance. That makes recycling bins very important, including where you put them. Having a centrally located recycling bin in the office is a great first move. Yet, if waste baskets located right below desks, it might discourage co-workers from walking to the recycling bin. Instead, having multiple centrally located bins, with the recycling and general waste bins side by side, encourages co-workers to be more intentional in sorting resources. By placing waste and recyclables side by side, your co-workers can rethink how much they send to the landfill and encourage them to reduce that amount.
If you work in a larger building with numerous tenants, it’s also important to understand how recyclables are collected and processed. In the end, the recycling efforts in the office should fit with the waste streams collected at building level.
Better recycling practices
Recycling can be confusing since common practices vary worldwide and different myths surround it. Some misconceptions you could address include:
- Never place oily or soiled food containers into recycling bins. If you can wash and recycle plastic containers, then they can be placed in plastic recycling bins. Glass bottles and metal cans should be rinsed before recycling too!
- You may not have known that clothes and other textiles should not be recycled in general recycling bins. However, do not let these textiles go to waste! Donate, reuse or upcycle textiles to extend their shelf life. Otherwise, locate public textile recycling bins near you on the susGain app. Setting up a dedicated textile bin in the office can make recycling these resources more accessible to your employees.
- Old electronics, wires, cables, bulbs and batteries should not go into waste bins as they may contaminate landfills and become fire hazards. Instead, look for bins that specifically collect e-waste (also found on the susGain app) and do take note of what type of items it collects. 3-in-1 bins collect ICT equipment, batteries and lamps. BB bins only collect batteries or bulbs. More information on how to responsibly recycle e-waste in Singapore can be found in this guide.
- Items delivered to the office always come in bubble wrap, poly mailers or padded envelopes. Don’t throw these away! Consider setting up a collection point for these commonly items. Save and reuse them to mail other products, organize small trinkets around the office or use them as rubbish bin liners. If you have excess, they can even be donated to other small businesses that regularly ship out packages. In Singapore, Package Pals and the Zero Waste Packaging Initiative both run programs that redistribute used packaging to consumers and companies alike.
If you’re unsure of where to put your waste, it will be a safer bet to put it in the trash bin. If even one item contaminates a recycling bin, the whole bin might have to be thrown out, wasting a whole lot of effort. Placing clear and easily read signages can also go a long way correctly sorting recyclables.
Other eco-friendly strategies to cultivate in the workplace
There are many other ways to support sustainability in the workplace. This can be done by rethinking all of the things that you do at work and how they can be adapted to be a little more green.
Reducing the use of paper resources in the office
Take printing paper for example. Printing can be a resource-intensive activity, especially if your office relies on paper documents a lot. How can companies the waste associated with printing?
- Encourage co-workers to print on both sides of the paper.
- Use recycled paper for printing, which saves resources to produce more products.
- Set up bins to collect paper with printing on one side.
- To reduce printing errors, set up printers to require confirmation from the print room, rather than sending a print job from one’s desk to the printing room. Hence, the person printing can spot errors and cancel a print job if it is wrong, preventing unnecessary wastage.
- Bins for waste paper, envelopes and other paper products is a great way to promote recycling. These paper products can then be recycled, i.e. at nearby SG Recycle community bins or dedicated paper recycling companies. Companies such as Tay Paper in Singapore also specialize in shredding and recycling of confidential documents.
- Some printer companies will take back printer cartridges for recycling. Alternatively, you can use printers with refillable ink tanks. Most libraries also have bins to collect used cartridges!
Keeping things clean at work
You might overlook everyday pantry items or office supplies, but they can definitely be made more sustainable.
- Make the switch to bamboo toilet paper or bamboo paper towels. Bamboo grows at much faster rates than wood does. Hence, their resulting products require less water and resources to manufacture.
- Instead of leaving single-use plastic cups around the pantry, encourage co-workers to bring their own mugs.
- Installing drying racks, cleaning products and brushes in pantries can encourage co-workers to use reusable containers for meals.
- Do your best to buy refills for cleaning products. Getting them in larger amounts can also reduce the number of soap containers used. Soap tablets usually come wrapped in paper packaging, cutting out all that plastic! This reduces the need for packaging and the amount of carbon emissions produced to ship the item from the factory to your workplace. In Singapore, Your Sustainable Store, The Sustainability Project and SimplyGood are just a few of the merchants that sell a variety of eco-friendly products which come in minimal packaging.
- Installing motion-sensored lights in toilets, rooms, offices, pantries and meeting spaces can help to bring down electricity usage.
- In hotdesking offices, having lockers can make storing reusable containers and bags more convenient. Co-workers who drive to work might even consider biking or taking public transport with lesser things to carry.
It’s time to get to work!
There are many ways to establish a more environmentally-friendly and resource-conserving workplace, but this can be difficult. Even when the right infrastructure has been put in place, more can be done to actively encourage and nudge co-workers to adopt green habits.
This is where the susGain app can support your company. Through gamified community challenges, the susGain app can incentivize the right sustainable habits. These include recycling, using reusables or switching off the lights. As more employees start demonstrating eco-conscious behaviour, corporate culture starts changing from within. Also, susGain can collect and provide measurable data showing the tangible impact that your employees’ have collectively contributed to. This helps to monitor, analyse and strategize on next steps on the road towards a more sustainable office.
susGain helps you follow through with your good intentions, simply by incorporating little sustainable habits into your daily life.
Looking to organise a customised community challenge for your company, school or club and measure the collective impact created? Reach out to us at email@example.com to find out more!