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14 Ways You Can Reduce Office Waste

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While more and more businesses are going green and implementing office recycling programs, they oftentimes lose momentum when they run out of waste reduction ideas. Below are 14 tips to get you thinking about how you could recycle more and reduce waste in your office.

1. Start Composting

office waste

As part of their waste management plans, many cities across Canada and the Unites States are enforcing the collection of organic waste in their recycling program goal to divert more waste from landfill. Organic waste is a valuable resource that can be composted to produce soil fertilizers to enhance soil quality and reduce soil erosion. The collection of organic waste considerably increases an organization’s diversion rate and can help you to reach zero waste. For example, collecting paper towels in your washroom can dramatically increase the amount of waste you divert from landfill. Start Collecting:

  • Food scraps
  • Paper towels and napkins
  • Coffee grinds & tea bags
  • Cardboard sleeves from hot beverage cups
  • Compostable plates and cutlery

Read 8 Simple Tips For Successful Organics Collection.

2. Start A Green Team

office waste

Set up a Green Team of employees across the organization to set clear goals for your office recycling program and waste reduction initiatives internally and externally. Make sure you also establish a timeline and determine how success will be measured and monitored. Include staff from different departments as well as the management team. It’s important to be inclusive to build ownership for the program and shared responsibility.

3. Recycle All Electronic Equipment

office waste

CleanRiver E-Waste Bin

What does your company do with its unwanted or out-of-date electronics? As technology evolves and obsolete items need to be replaced, electronic waste collection is becoming an important part of office recycling programs. E-waste is unwanted electronic items. Things that are commonly collected for recycling include cell phones, computers, printers, batteries, ink cartridges, cables, and CDs. Electronic waste is becoming an important component of recycling programs.

Check out our 4 Simple Secrets To Totally Rock Your E-Waste Recycling Program.

4. Start An Upcycle Station For All Old Office Equipment And Furniture

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Upcycle Station at National Geographic.

Set a designated area or shelving unit aside in your facility to collect and store all old office supplies. Whenever employees have old office furniture, phones, computers, staplers, file folders, etc they can be organized and placed in the “Upcycle Station”.  When an employee is in need of a “new” office supply, make it protocol to check the Upcycle Station before re-ordering any new items.

5. Go Paperless And Transition To Digital Files And Electronic Invoices

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If you haven’t already switched all your bills and banking over to online what are you waiting for?! Take advantage of the ease and convenience of being able to manage your payments at the tip of your fingers. This will not only save you tons of time, but also save you money on postage and late fees and many companies will even offer you a discount if you choose to go paperless.

6. Set Up Printers To Automatically Print Double Sided

Take the thinking away for your employees and make it simple for everyone just by having your printers set to automatically print on both sides of the paper when printing documents.

7. Reuse File Folders

No need to grab a new file folder every time, instead just place a new label on top or turn the file inside out.

8. Start A Centralized Recycling Program

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Take away employee’s individual waste and recycling bins! Yes, you read that correctly. At CleanRiver we strongly recommend centralized waste and recycling stations. Why? Because when employees sort their own waste they become more aware of what they’re throwing out rather than just chucking it in the convenient bin under their desk. As they learn what can and can’t be recycled or composted from the graphics on the central recycling bins, they are more likely to toss the waste in the right stream which prevents stream contamination.

Try the Mini Bin program to get your centralized recycling program started. Hennepin County saved $9,500 a year in waste hauling and liner costs when they implemented a Mini Bin program.

office waste

9. Work With All Suppliers To Reduce Packaging And What Comes Into Your Office

Communicated and educate your vendors and suppliers about your company’s sustainability goals and initiative. If you work with your supply chain you can have more control of materials and waste are being brought into your facility. This way you can ensure all packaging coming into your facility can be recycled, reused, or composted. Better yet, nowadays you can even work with vendors to take the packaging back after delivery.

10. Encourage Litterless Lunches

office waste

At CleanRiver, every new employee receives their own reusable lunch bag including Tupperware. This is just one proactive step your office can take to encourage employees to avoid bringing their lunch in paper or plastic bags which are used once and then tossed. At CleanRiver, we encourage our employees to be mindful of what they bring into the office. Like elementary classrooms, a litter-less lunch is just one initiative your organization can adopt to reduce the amount of daily waste coming into the facility.

11. Ban Bottled Water

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Did you know that 38 billion water bottles end up in landfill every year just in the US alone? It’s time to ban one use plastics and bottled water is the first easy step.  Encourage employees to sip from reusable water bottles by placing water fountains or water stations throughout your office and remove bottled water from vending machines. At CleanRiver, we provide all employees with their personal branded stainless steel water bottles to promote sustainable habits and keep them away from purchasing bottled water.

12. Buy Coffee, Tea And Sugar In Bulk (No Sugar Packs Or Stir Straws)

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Stop ordering individual coffee and tea packs. Save money and reduce waste by purchasing everything from coffee to sugar in bulk.

13. Offer Recycling Incentive Programs To Employees, Make It A Competition So It Is Engaging And Fun

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Set company and departmental goals. Competitions create a fun atmosphere and positive buzz about new initiatives. Businesses often provide budgetary, sales, and performance incentives so why not do the same with recycling? Potential savings generated by the program can offset the costs.

14. Provide Office Owned Dishes

Skip the disposable plates and encourage litterless lunches by keeping your office kitchen stocked with real plates and cutlery. At CleanRiver we keep a weekly rotation for kitchen duty. The person on duty is responsible for emptying the dishwasher and ensuring all plates and cutlery are put away daily.

For more information on reducing office waste, check out our blogs 10 Tips To Increase Your Office Recycling and 6 Steps To Improve Your Waste Diversion Rate.


CleanRiver Recycling provides a variety of innovative, flexible and customizable recycling solutions. To determine the right solution to meet your needs, use the CleanRiver product selector.

If you have additional questions that weren’t answered in this blog post please call us at 1-866-479-4038 or email solutions@cleanriver.com.