HOW TO START A RECYCLING PROGRAM
|1. Identify which materials will be recycled. It is best to start with the easiest, largest volume of material, in many cases that will be paper, cardboard, maybe plastic water bottles. The key to a successful recycling program is to start small and build on your accomplishments.|
2. Find a recycling service provider and work with that vendor to set up your program. A good place to start is by contacting your current trash hauler to see if they haul recyclables as well. If they do, your program can be simplified by working with your current hauler or another hauler who will provide both waste and recycling services. Keep in mind that a different hauler may be able to offer a better price. Recycling service providers can be found in the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Recycled Material Market Directory, which can be accessed and downloaded on-line. Call several recycling companies for cost estimates and information on the types of service they provide.
3. Acquire recycling bins. Haulers may provide these. If not, a simple internet search or call to your local recycling coordinator will provide you with a list of companies that sell bins. In either case choose bins according to the hauler's collection requirements and ease of use in your facility.
4. Put recycling containers next to trash bins. Placing the recycling and waste receptacles next to each other will increase the amount recycled materials and decrease contamination, which is the existence of non-recyclable materials in the recycling receptacle. When designing the program, consider accessibility and ease of use. Also remember to think about how the bins are going to be emptied, when, and by whom.
5. Label both trash and recycling bins clearly. People will be less likely to confuse the trash and recycling bins if they are clearly marked. Using large fonts and different colors for trash and recycling is helpful, but avoid lots of distracting graphics. Labels also serve as regular reminders to recycle. On or next to the recycling bins list the items that can be placed in the bin.
6. Publicize! People won’t recycle if they don’t know the option is available. Send a memo or make a cheat sheet for employees to refer to while at their desk, especially if you use desk-side recycling bins. Tell employees about the new recycling program by sending an email memo, mentioning it at staff meetings, rewarding employees or departments that recycle the most, or holding an afternoon seminar about the program and the benefits of recycling. Follow up with employees on the success of the program with information about the resources saved through the recycling program.
7. Have someone serve as the recycling coordinator. If one person oversees the program, employees will have a consistent resource for answers to their questions and someone to monitor pickups.
8. Educate the custodians. Your program won't work if the cleaning personnel are not on board. Make sure they understand their role in the program and work with them to find room for improvement. An important goal of the program is to help participants feel good about their role in recycling, reward good behavior.
9. If you are part of a small office in an office building, contact the building manager. The building management may work with you to set up a building wide-program or these services may exist already. The management would be able to save money on disposal costs by diverting material from the trash – a clear benefit for them, which an individual office would not achieve.
10. Still have questions? Contact your local or county recycling coordinator, recycling hauler or the Michigan Recycling Coalition at 517-974-3672 with further questions.