Getting people to recycle is not an easy task. You can scare them with statistics, pressure them with guilt and even overload them with facts, but if people don’t feel motivated it’s unlikely they’ll act. So how do you get people to recycle, and especially in the workplace? Well, we believe that the only approach is through creativity. The type of creativity that makes it almost fun to recycle. Here are just a few of the creative ways we have found to work best.
Ok, so this may not be the most creative idea but, more often than not, the sole reason your employees don’t recycle is because they don’t understand what they should or shouldn’t be recycling. There is a bin for a paper, a bin for aluminium, a bin for food waste. It can all get a tad confusing.
Our first piece of advice is to adopt a simple and clear policy. Don’t make every item mandatory. Simply pick two easy to identify items like plastic and paper. Overtime, when the policy has become the norm, you can start to add other items and expand the policy.
Introduce a Green Team
Employees, especially when new to a business, love to be involved with a variety of projects. Capture this enthusiasm by implementing a ‘green team’. The job of the green team is to simply look for and introduce new policies that will improve the environmental impact of the business.
This is great way to involve junior members of staff with senior members and it can create a culture where colleagues work together to tackle recycling rather than management simply dictating a new policy.
Instead of demanding that your employees recycle, why don’t you incentivise the scheme? It all depends on the structure of your business, but we’ve found simply splitting the business into departments and offering prizes to the team who recycles the most rubbish is both effective and fun. You can obviously get far more creative, but it’s often best to start out simple and get more creative when you have the core of the team involved.
While competitions are effective in the short term, a reward system is far more effective in the long term. The rewards don’t have to be expensive or outlandish either. Start thinking personalised notepads, personalised pens or an early home time to the team who meet their recycling goals for the month.
All you need is a special recycling bin for each department. Remember to inspect the bin at random intervals each month. The team who stick to the recycling policy should be rewarded. Alternatively, you can reward employees who actively promote recycling among their colleagues.
Remove Desk Bins
This may seem counter-intuitive but there is some solid logic behind removing bins from your employees’ desks. The logic is that people are lazy. If they can slip everything into one bin two feet away it’s unlikely they’ll walk over to your dedicated recycling point.
Simply by having one refuse point you will encourage employees to think about what they are throwing away and to take more care in their waste disposal.
If you think removing bins from desks is a step too far, think about how you can make recycling fun. One idea we love is to have each department decorate their bin in a competition. Introduce awards for the ‘most creative bin’ or for the department whose bin ‘most embraces recycling’.
It may seem a tad outlandish, but the more you can encourage enthusiasm and participation in the early days of your new policy, the more likely it is your employees will stick to the policy. Plus, the creative bins will act as a daily reminder of their environmental responsibilities.