How to Start a Paper Recycling Program
Paper is one of the most commonly recycled items in municipal waste streams. It’s used everywhere from newspapers, books, and magazines to food boxes and shipping containers. It’s because of this widespread use that paper recycling in Chicago offers the most opportunity for participation. If your business isn’t recycling paper, we’ve got some tips to get a program started.
Throw Out Your Old Misconceptions About Paper Recycling In Chicago
One reason that paper recycling may be struggling at your workplace could have to do with old misconceptions. Way back when paper recycling in Chicago first started, we were pretty limited on what could be recycled. It was newspaper and not much else. Well, the times have changed. As you can see from the list below, almost anything that has been made from wood pulp can now be tossed in the recycling bin.
Types Of Paper That Can Be Recycled:
- Mixed papers
- Corrugated cardboard
- Office papers
- Paper cardboard and juice containers
- Junk mail
- Phone books
Another reason that paper recycling may not be popular in the workplace could be attributed to the success of recycling programs in general and the “someone else will take care of it” mentality. We have become so used to recycling that we take it for granted and sometimes assume our own little workplace can’t make that much of a difference. If this sounds familiar you couldn’t be more wrong. Even with the rise in electronic communication, we still use a lot of paper – about 69 million tons every year, according to the EPA. Of that, only about 65% is recycled. There is always room for improvement.
Starting A Recycling Program At The Workplace
Here’s a step-by-step guide to getting a recycling program started in your workplace:
- Obtain approvals from management. The program won’t go anywhere if it’s ignored or actively discouraged by management. For something that affects the entire organization like recycling, you need to get management on board with the plan before you start collecting recyclables.
- Conduct a recycling audit. This is where you identify recyclable materials and analyze their quality. Items to be recycled should be free of contamination, present in sufficient quantities to make a recycling program worthwhile, and easily separated from other materials.
- Talk to your waste hauler or identify a recycling center like Combined Resources, Inc. that will pick up your recyclables. Ask about their programs and options for recycling and get some cost estimates.
- Analyze the costs of starting a program. Very few businesses will start a new program if the costs exceed the benefits. This is where it becomes important to have recyclables in sufficient quantities. Costs can be lowered by decreasing the frequency of pick-ups and ensuring you have a good quantity of materials available for pick up. Very small businesses may want to arrange a pick-up on call service so the hauler only picks up the recycling when you call to tell them you’re ready.
- Plan collection procedures. Once you have the go ahead to get the program up and running, figure out how you’re going to collect recyclables. How and where will they be collected? Who will empty the containers? Where will they be stored until collection day?
- Spread the word. Make sure to get the word out that a new recycling program is starting. Talk it up, be clear about the procedures, and be prepared to answer questions.
- Measure results. There’s nothing like solid numbers to demonstrate the impact a recycling program is having on the workplace. Keep track of how much is being recycled. How many bins are used on each floor/department/desk? Have you noticed a decrease in bags going to the trash bins? Do you have as much to recycle as you thought? Have you identified new recyclables to add to the program?
To learn more about starting a recycling program in the workplace, contact Combined Resources, Inc. at 855-782-8490. Learn more about our paper recycling services, here.