Every business can strive to be more sustainable no matter what the size. If you've been tasked to start a recycling program for your small business and you don't know where to start here's how:

Step 1: Conduct A Waste Audit

The first thing you should do is a conduct a simple office waste audit.  Collect your waste over a period of three days.   At CleanRiver, we recommend a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday (sometime midweek). Make sure you use clear bags and as you empty each bag from the bin, be sure to write on each bag: the location in your facility you're collecting that bag from, the type of bin (is it a waste bin or recycling bin?) and the day of the week you're collecting it. [caption id="attachment_5448" align="aligncenter" width="450"]small business recycling prgoram CleanRiver office waste audit.[/caption] Once you have all those bags collected now is when the fun begins. Don’t worry, we're not expecting you to tear the bags apart and to sort all the smelly pieces by hand. Instead put all the bags in one place and weigh each bag. Record on a spreadsheet the weight of each bag and the location in the facility where each bag is collected from. By doing a visual inspection, record on your spreadsheet what items are identified. What percentage is paper? What percentage is cans and bottles? What percentage is waste? And potentially what percentage is compost? Congratulations! You now have your baseline data of your current waste diversion rate.

Step 2: Determine What You’re Going To Collect In Your Small Business Recycling Program

If you're a small business you either have your waste collected by a waste hauler or maybe you use municipal collection. Here at CleanRiver, we have municipal collection. As a small business, often paper or pop cans are easy items to start with when implementing a recycling program. Also, don’t forget to check with your municipality or your waste hauler to find out whether they collect organic waste.  Organics collection is another great and simple opportunity to reduce the amount of waste you’re sending to landfill. small business recycling program

Step 3: Choose Your Recycling Bins

Select the capacity of your recycling bins based on the amount of waste you're generating throughout your facility which was determined from your initial audit. Then decide if your office should do centralized recycling or if you want to have individual bins per employee. [caption id="attachment_6240" align="aligncenter" width="600"]small business recycling program Office FlexE™ Bin for centralized recycling.[/caption]

At CleanRiver, we use a centralized recycling system where every employee has two mini bins at their desk and we're each responsible for sorting our own waste in the central recycling and waste bin. When employees sort their own waste, they become more familiar with what type of waste they’re producing and they ultimately make better choices when tossing it in the right stream. Be sure to place your centralized recycling bins in high-traffic areas like meeting rooms and cafeterias. We recommend one central recycling area per 50 employees. For more help with choosing your bins check out our blog 5 Pro Tips For Ordering Your Recycling Bins.

*Mini Bins are now available on Amazon*

Step 4: Make Sure You Have Clear Graphics On Your Recycling Bins

Clear graphics or signage are going to be critical to the success of your recycling program. They help people make the right choice and clearly understand which container to put their garbage in. We recommend that you use around 3 to 5 images per stream. The signage can either be on the bin or above the bin on the wall. Anywhere where someone sees it as they're approaching the bin. Try to keep the colors of your signage consistent with your region or city.  People will then become more familiar with the program and know exactly how to sort their waste. small business recycling program If you need help with your recycling bin signage check out our free Guide To Recycling Graphics.

Step 5: Communicate The Benefits Of Your Recycling Program

  [caption id="attachment_2187" align="aligncenter" width="600"]small business recycling program Training staff on how to use the recycling stations helped LEC decrease their landfill waste by 63%[/caption] Now it's time to think through your communication plan. You want to make sure that you train and communicate the benefits of the recycling program to everyone in the business. You can do that by creating posters, through email, cafeteria table tent cards and through team meetings. Continue to audit your program as you roll it out and tweak the program where it makes sense. It’s important to recognize and communicate the results and successes that your small office recycling program achieves. Remember any recycling program is better than no recycling program! For more information on starting a recycling program check out 10 Tips To Increase Office Recycling4 Reasons Why Your Office Recycling Program Is Failing and 10 Tips To Maximize Your Recycling Container Investment. Recycling Graphics Guide, Sustainability Manager, Facility Manager, recycling program, office recycling, business recycling, campus recycling

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 1-888-646-4246 or email solutions@cleanriver.com.