10-Step Action Plan


View the 10 steps below for recommended actions and tools you can use to develop and execute your own Recycling at Work action plan.

Step 1 - Make Commitment
Step 2 - Assemble Team
Step 3 - Conduct Audit
Step 4 - Develop a Plan
Step 5 - Make It Easy
Step 6 - Launch Your Program
Step 7 - Monitor Progress
Step 8 - Publicize Success
Step 9 - Buy Recycled-Content
Step 10 - Encourage Others
Make the commitment

Take the Recycling at Work pledge and join other businesses and organizations leading the national effort to increase recycling in the workplace.

Recycling at Work is a national voluntary initiative promoting the actions of businesses, government agencies and institutions to increase recycling in the workplace. Become a Pledge Partner today by taking the Recycling at Work pledge and access free tools and resources to help you recycle more, encourage employee participation, and earn recognition.

Assemble a recycling team

Your team should be cross-functional representing key departments such as administration, IT, facilities maintenance, procurement and operations. Each of these departments is fundamental to the success of your recycling program.

Ask the team to identify a Recycling Team Leader who will be responsible for coordinating and implementing your workplace recycling initiatives. They will coordinate with the rest of the team to conduct waste assessments, set recycling goals, plan recycling activities, educate employees, and monitor your progress.

Make sure they have management support, adequate resources, clear goals and are empowered to drive change.

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Conduct a waste audit

Do a baseline assessment of what types of recyclables and waste your office generates, how much is recycled and how much is discarded. Use that data to improve your current recycling program and identify potential cost-savings and revenue opportunities.

A waste audit is fundamental to implementing a successful recycling program and effectively measuring your progress. Your Recycling Team can conduct the waste audit in-house using a simple waste assessment worksheet or contact your city or county’s recycling office or your waste hauler for assistance. Some local governments and waste haulers offer waste audit services to businesses free of charge.

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Develop a recycling plan

Identify what should be recycled starting with the materials that make up the largest portion of your waste stream. Set clear recycling goals for each of the materials you plan to collect then arrange a meeting with the head of your custodial staff, property manager, and/or waste hauler to engage them in the design of your collection system.

Discuss collection methods and removal options noting what you can do to improve your existing program. Carefully consider the location, type, size and number of recycling bins you currently have and identify what you need to make recycling easier for employees. In addition to reviewing the logistics of your recycling program, use the meeting as an opportunity to enlist their help in educating employees. Check out these helpful tips and ideas for working effectively with your custodial team and property management.

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Make it easy

Aim to have a recycling bin located next
 to every garbage can to make it as easy to recycle as it is to throw away. Avoid confusion by ensuring your recycling bins look different than garbage cans and are clearly marked with signs or labels showing what materials are accepted.

Recycling bins should also be easily accessible near each desk, in the copy/work room, and in high-traffic areas, such as the cafeteria, hallways, concession and vending machine
 areas, and the lobby. Each
 location may require a different size and 
kind of container, depending on the
 materials targeted for collection and the
 space constraints of the location.

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Launch your Recycling at Work program

Start by enlisting your president, CEO or top administrator to send out a memo to all employees endorsing the new recycling program and encouraging their participation. Organize a Recycling at Work kick-off event to educate employees about your new recycling procedures and get their ideas for ongoing improvements to your program.

Your kick-off event can be anything from a zero-waste dessert social to a simple staff meeting dedicated to recycling. Whatever type of event you choose, start with a training presentation and provide hand-outs detailing your new recycling procedures. Other ways to internally publicize the launch of your new recycling program may include promotional posters in high-traffic areas, writing an article for your e-newsletter or a post on your company blog or intranet.

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Monitor your progress

Establish a schedule for monitoring your recycling program’s performance with the first evaluation taking place within one month of your program launch. Monitoring your program from the start will allow you to identify and correct problems and track whether your recycling goals are being met.

Share your recycling challenges and progress with employees and work with them on program improvements or modifications. Encourage them to become more involved in reaching your recycling goals by setting up a suggestion box or special email address where they can submit their ideas and feedback about the program.

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Publicize success and recognize recycling achievements

Share your recycling successes with employees using memos from senior management, your newsletter, intranet, and company-wide emails to share your recycling achievements with employees. Highlight recycling rate increases, environmental impact, cost-effectiveness and employee participation.

Likewise, be sure you recognize individual employees who have made noteworthy contributions to your recycling effort with a letter of appreciation sent directly from your president or CEO. Acknowledge them publicly among their co-workers with a special award at a staff meeting, a Recycling at Work gift, or a mention in your company newsletter.

In addition to celebrating successes internally, publicize your recycling achievements externally to customers, media and other stakeholders. Dedicate a page on your website to your Recycling at Work initiative and accomplishments. Send out a regular update to your email lists. Distribute a press release to your trade press and local media. Finally look for opportunities to garner recognition through local government programs and national programs like Recycling at Work.

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Look for opportunities to buy recycled-content products

Work with your purchasing staff to create a list of office supplies and products made from post-consumer recycled material starting with your paper products such as printer paper, note pads, envelopes, and cardboard packaging materials.

Notify your printer and suppliers that your organization prefers to use products made from post-consumer recycled materials. Also, be sure all employees are aware of your “buy recycled-content” product preferences so they can help spread the word.

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Encourage other organizations and businesses to take the pledge

Invite at least one other organization to take the Recycling at Work pledge.

Materials and Resources:

Clinton Global Initiative This national program of Keep America Beautiful is part of its Clinton Global Initiative commitment.