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Recycling System for Your Small Business

Wanting to set up a recycling system for your company is a great thought, but it often takes a little bit more work than you think. It’s not as simple as plopping a few bins around the office or warehouse and expecting folks to start using them. For one, you have to actually get people to use the bins, a feat upon itself!

It’s almost like warfare – you have to get into people’s heads. Otherwise, they’ll tune out and just plain forget to do it. So here are some ways you can successfully integrate recycling into your business and actually get employees to follow suit.


The thing about setting up a recycling system for your company (or anywhere for that matter) is many see it as an inconvenience. Instead of just tossing their lunch in the trash, they not have to figure out which bin it goes in. It may seem silly, but that’s the way it goes. The trick is to circumvent this.

One of the first things you can do is to assign someone in the office the duty of “official recycling commander.” Well, maybe a better name, but the point stands – someone in the office should be the head of the new movement. Also, it probably shouldn’t be you, as assigning an employee can make it more of a team effort.

Now for the convenience factor. Make sure the bins are as easily accessed as possible. When faced with a choice of walking around the office to find a recycling bin versus throwing something in the trash, it will be trash every time. Make the bins visible and easily reached.

Also, check with your recycling provider to see if they need multiple bins for different materials. If this is the case, you may want to set up your own system so you only have one bin. Multiple bins for glass, plastic, etc. only confuse and irritate employees already feeling inconvenienced by the whole setup. If it’s not a ton of work, someone could separate it later, or you can ship it to a center that doesn’t care about separate materials.


Your employees want to recycle, they do. They just don’t know WHY they do…at least not yet! Along with convenience, your employees just want an explanation of these changes and why they should care. Proper education on the program is crucial in this regard.

Have your official recycling commander (or whatever you’re calling them) hold a meeting or two explaining exactly how the system works and how much it will change everyone’s lives (not very much). Be as detailed as possible and prepare to answer lots of questions. Once everyone knows how easy the transition will be, it will be a cinch to get people to cooperate.

If everyone still seems a little put-off by the idea, brainstorm a promotion with your recycling commander. For instance, an office-wide contest to recycle a certain amount of material in a month’s time that results in a fun night out could be a great incentive to your employees.