Tenterfield Star

7 Ways to reduce waste in the workplace

7 Ways to reduce waste in the workplace

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Recycling has become a quintessential component of maintaining not just healthy, environmentally and socially conscious households, but professional spaces as well. With more and more Aussie consumers adopting eco-conscious practices in their day-to-day, it's increasingly clear that a business' initiatives to reduce waste in the workplace as well as advocate for sustainable personal and professional practices, can hold a direct influence on worker satisfaction.

In a nutshell, Aussie employees value being a part of organisations that 'do their bit'. So how can your business reduce its own waste? We'll be outlining seven easy and effective sustainable organisational practices that you can incorporate into your professional spaces today.

1. Assess your office printing habits

Did you know that modern HP toner cartridges used with laser printing can produce up to ten times the amount of documents when compared to traditional inkjet printer cartridges?

As laser printers use powder-based inks over liquid ink cartridges, office laser printers are able to produce a substantial amount of printed documents, making laser printers ideal for organisations like law firms, medical clinics, and other professional spaces that may find themselves printing a higher number of documents.

If you do work in an industry that does require a large amount of printing, then investing in a laser printer will likely help your organisation conserve a large portion of its printing budget, as larger page yields naturally means you'll be buying replacement cartridges less frequently.

Alongside this, using high yield toner cartridges over traditional printer ink cartridges reduces the amount of depleted printer cartridges your organisation will accrue each year. Less depleted ink cartridges naturally equates to less waste. If you do have to use an inkjet printer for colour print jobs, however, you can keep your printing habits as sustainable as possible by simply recycling your depleted ink cartridges.

2. Swap out sticky notes for scrap paper

Of course, revisiting your printing habits is one thing, but the benefits of assessing printer use don't just stop at conserving printer ink. Practicing responsible printing is also about reducing the amount of paper that your office consumes on any given day.

As a generally single-use resource that tends to be in constant supply, paper is well and truly taken for granted in the majority of modern office spaces, and it can be all too easy to churn through your office paper supply at an alarming rate. By monitoring your office's paper usage, however, you may be able to easily cut down on unnecessary printing and paper usage, and save your company a fair amount of funds that can be better spent on additional office supplies instead.

You may even decide to cut down on your paper usage by opting for recycled or scrap paper wherever possible rather than using fresh printer paper for intra-office correspondence or even personal note-taking. You'd be surprised by just how much money and paper can be saved by providing staff with pre-cut scrap paper for note-taking over purchasing sticky notes.

3. Introduce additional rubbish and recycling bins

Recycling is more than just separating paper and cardboard materials from landfill waste. Nowadays, thanks to the REDcycle Program, Australian consumers can recycle soft plastic packaging too. The REDcycle Program has naturally saved thousands of tonnes worth of soft plastics from being sent straight to landfill since the program was first developed in 2011.

You can encourage REDcycling in your office space by including a specialty REDcycling bin for staff to dispose of waste like chip packet and muesli bar wrappers, cling wrap, and all other forms of recyclable soft plastics.

Alongside recycling soft plastics, your staff may also value the inclusion of a food compost bin, a basin for the collection of coffee grounds for in-office composting, and recycling disposable coffee cups by collecting cups and taking them to your local coffee cup collection point.

4. Use a recycling app

If you're uncertain about exactly what waste can be placed in each of your office's new bins, then chances are that your staff may be just as confused as you, and this confusion can lead to inaction. You can remove all the anxiety and confusion from navigating recycling, rubbish, and compost bins by placing signage around your bins, as well as encouraging employees to use a recycling app.

There are many Australian-made recycling apps to choose from on the App Store and Google Play Store today. One that goes highly recommended is Western Australia's own Recycle Right app.

Developed by the Resource Recovery Group based in Perth, Western Australia, the Recycle Right app provides app users with extensive information and advice on how to recycle and dispose of all office waste responsibly.

5. Encourage employees to use reusable containers and cups

Hands down, one of the easiest and most effective methods for minimising waste in office spaces is simply by encouraging your staff to bring their lunch in using tupperware containers rather than buy takeaway that comes delivered to the office in disposable plastic containers. Although these plastic containers are technically recyclable, the energy that is used to recycle these containers is just as unnecessary an expenditure as the container itself.

In short, reducing the use of these takeaway containers will naturally save a great amount of resources and energy used from the manufacturing process and straight through to that container's end of life.

Alongside encouraging the use of tupperware containers, employers can also recommend that their staff use reusable drink bottles and coffee cups over disposable cafe coffee cups wherever possible.

You can encourage the shift to reusable coffee cup use by providing all of your staff with branded reusable coffee cups as a corporate Christmas present, or perhaps even by allowing staff to purchase their own company coffee cups throughout the year.

6. Provide staff incentives to build sustainable habits

Not even the most eco-conscious individuals are likely to pre-pack their lunch before work every day, as doing so requires a fair amount of discipline as well as the right circumstances. And really, the objective isn't to get takeaway for lunch as infrequently as possible, but to ensure that you build sustainable habits that you can maintain for years if not decades to come.

Employers can encourage their employees to build these habits by providing additional incentives designed to reinforce these eco-conscious practices, as well as ensure that these practices stay a positive part of your organisation's own daily routines. You can reward employees with 'green points' for small actions like using their reusable coffee cup over a disposable one, bringing in lunch rather than order takeaway, or even swapping out their packaged snacks for pre-made snacks like veggie sticks, fruit slices, or cheese and crackers.

If allocating individual points feels too pesky, you can absolutely use bin capacity as a reference point for gauging improvements in your workplace's ability to reduce its own waste. You may also decide to establish your own Sustainable Development Goals, and provide prizes or rewards for your staff upon reaching each individual goal, with a major company-wide reward for reaching all of your defined goals.

7. Maintain a hybrid work model

Finally, it goes without saying that an organisation with less people naturally produces far less waste. This isn't to say that you should start doling out redundancy letters. Instead, maintaining your workplace's hybrid work model can actually play a major role in keeping your organisation's waste production to a minimum, as well as ensuring that your carbon footprint stays nice and small.

It's important to note here too, that a hybrid work model can boost your organisation's sustainability rating in a myriad of other ways, including reducing energy consumption by minimising heating and lighting usage, as well as minimising strain placed on local streets or public transport networks by removing the need for your employees to commute. In essence, if your organisation can maintain a hybrid work model, it absolutely should, for more reasons than just public health and safety.

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Reducing waste in the workplace is really all about finding the sustainable practices that work best for your business. Chances are that not all of these practices are applicable or appropriate for your business, and in this case, there may very well be other sustainable practices that you are either actively maintaining or can easily introduce.