EHS Management

9 Steps for Successful Recycling

1.  Set up appropriate recycling programs in administrative offices, food service areas, and public areas. It is best to concentrate on areas that produce significant amounts of particular materials.

2.  Walk through the facility noting what type of waste is discarded in each area. A walk-through will help determine which types of bins are needed. Typical programs are likely to involve some of the following:

  • Offices—paper, corrugated paper or cardboard, cans, bottles.
  • Food service areas—glass, metal cans, plastic containers, corrugated paper, cardboard (make sure food waste is separated or that it goes down the garbage disposal).
  • Public area—newspaper, magazines, bottles, cans.


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3.  In placing bins, make sure that they achieve a balance between convenience and cluster. Bins should be close enough to where the waste is discarded so the people will use them, but not so widespread that people will trip over them. It is a good idea to talk to people who work in a particular area to determine exactly where bins should be placed.

4.   Make sure that bins in public areas are well-marked. It is best to choose bins with specialized openings, such as a hole for cans or a slot for newspapers, for these areas. Inform employees about proper recycling procedures. Send an e-mail, throw a kickoff party, and explain any separation procedures when distributing bins.

5.   Set up a log book or a receipt system to record the volume of recyclables leaving the premises. This will ensure proper compensation for materials and allow for appropriate action if volumes decrease.

6.  Include recycling information in orientation materials for new employees. Explain the overall recycling program to janitors, and use them as the program’s eyes and ears. Have them report any areas with major contamination problems, and follow up with improved recycling education in these areas.


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7.  After policies have been established, train janitorial staff by showing them what to do with new bins, how to collect waste separately, and where to bring separated materials. For a 24-hour operation, plan pick-ups as appropriate to avoid problems with overflowing bins. Be sure that grounds crews know to keep yard waste separate from other waste.

 8.  Ask the waste hauler for advice about keeping recyclables and wet waste separate. Depending on the company’s trucks and equipment, the hauler may provide separate containers for trash and recyclables.

 9.  Remind employees to keep food waste out of recycling containers and trash. Food waste should go down the garbage disposal or be handled separately from trash and recyclables.

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