office professional holds a full plastic recycling bin and a bag of trash.

The Ultimate Primer for Better Recycling

Would you like to improve recycling efforts in your office? Good on you Planeteer.  Captain Planet tips his hat.  However, it can be difficult to know where to begin as recycling programs can very between counties and states.  Worry not, as you’ve come to the right place.  This is the Business Cleaning Solutions ultimate primer for better recycling.  Below we’ll include tips and resources to make recycling at your workplace a little easier.  

Top 5 reasons Americans recycle.
infographic: recyclingpartnership.org

Why Recycle at Your Office?

There’s the infamous three R’s (Recycle, Reduce, Reuse).  Yeah, yeah, green and eco-friendly. The birds and the trees.  But looking beyond this there are quite a few economic incentives to recycle.  Looking at the numbers, according to the non-profit Recycling Partnership, 85% of Americans believe in the virtue of recycling. In addition, 7 in 10 Americans polled said they would support a company that makes strong efforts to be sustainable.  Now that’s compelling. With so many folks on board, it’s easy to get pumped about recycling!

Infographic explaining that 78 percent of people are more conscious a nd supportive of sustainable companies.
infographic: recyclingpartnership.org

The Recycling Industry Creates Jobs

Job creation is another reason to keep it green.  According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) a 2016 study revealed that in a single year recycling and reuse activities collectively created the following:

  • over 681,000 jobs
  • 37.8 billion in wages
  • $5.5 Billion in tax revenues

Now that’s a lot of commerce.  If you’re a diligent recycler you may have unknowingly been helping a friend or member of the community working in the recycling biz.  Keep up the good work gang!

But We Could All Do Better

In 2018 the US generated more than 292 million tons of municipal solid waste.  Of this 94 million tons were recycled or composted.  Crunching the data, we’re looking at a 30% recycling rate.  That’s good, but not great. This should motivate everyone to effort harder.  Is there still a catch-all single trash can in your break room? If so, it’s likely lonely, overwhelmed and could use some recycling bin companions.    Besides, doesn’t it feel awkward to toss a soda can into the trash in 2021? It’s no longer 1989 folks!

Recycling Can be Confusing

Knowing exactly what can be recycled is an important first step. This can admittedly be confusing.  Those greasy pizza boxes?  That depends….not if it’s covered in cheese and still has food still in it.  The best comprehensive tool for finding local recycling info can be found at BeRecycled.org.  This US nationwide system allows you to put in any zip code and get local info on recycling programs, recycling guidelines and other helpful resources.  

What to Recycle

Reduce your carbon footprint with this list of the top 9 recyclable items.  These materials are found in nearly every workplace. Remember: more forests, fewer landfills!

  1. Newspapers. (If you can still find them).  Many periodicals are converting to E-Publication now anyway.
  2. Mixed Paper. According to the EPA, paper comprises a third of all municipal waste in the U.S. It’s also one of the easiest materials to recycle. Nearly all office stationary can go….computer paper, envelops, business cards, fliers, etc. 
  3. Glossy Magazines and Ads. Magazines can also be recycled, even the bougie, glossy variety. This applies to thicker card stock such as junk mail flyers and catalogues.
  4. Cardboard. Cardboard is another classic recyclable.  Remember to flatten boxes. 
  5. Plastic Drink Bottles. Americans buy 29 billion water bottles a year. For every six bottles people buy, only one is recycled.
  6. Plastic Product Bottles. Thicker plastic bottles used for shampoo, detergent and similar items can also be recycled. These bottles should be rinsed clean and their plastic tops removed.
  7. Aluminum Cans. Recycling soda cans reduces the need to mine for new aluminum.  Producing cans from recycled aluminum requires 95 percent less energy.  In some states they can even be redeemed for a nickel or dime….yet more incentives. 
  8. Steel Cans. Steel (”tin”) cans can also be recycled. Soup and chili cans.  Even the canned cranberry that nobody ate at Thanksgiving.  Note: be sure to rinse them out beforehand.
  9. Glass Containers. Glass containers used in food and beverage packaging are 100 percent recyclable. 

The 4 Most Popular Commercial Recycling Bins

Yes, proper sorting of recyclables is important.  It is slightly more time consuming, and therefore a big ask.  But is it really? Depending upon the size of your operations there are generally 4 different type of recycling bins.  Here are the four most popular:

  1. General Trash
  2. Glass Recycling Container
  3. Cardboard Recycling Bin
  4. Mixed Content Recycling (paper, tin, aluminum)

Final Wrap-up

This concludes our ultimate primer for better recycling. You now have a black-belt in the essentials.  However, recycling is a big, important topic with many do’s and don’ts. In the future we’ll be deep-diving into recycling of all kinds.   We’ll be covering the responsible disposal of specialty items such as old electronics, batteries, styrofoam, and more.  Until then, keep it green and keep it clean. Questions? The commercial cleaning consultants at BCS are always a great resource. Contact us today.

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