How can centralized recycling stations help improve waste diversion and streamline its collection?
According to a 2008 Statistics Canada survey, the average Canadian generates more than 1,000 kilograms of garbage each year, 67 per cent of which is attributed to non-residential sources. It’s no wonder most companies are being pressured to reduce waste while streamlining collections through recycling.
One of the biggest impediments to effective recycling programs in the workplace is the desk-side trash bin. Providing centralized recycling stations — along with strategically placed bins for recyclables — makes it easy for employees to take out the trash with little effort as they go about their routine, coming and going within their workplaces. This translates into a cleaner, healthier building where the tenants actually help to ensure that waste and recyclables are dealt with more efficiently and effectively.
These enhanced waste management policies can not only improve the environment, but also provide significant cost savings.
In the late 1990s, the Ontario government developed a “Green Workplace” program employing centralized waste/recycling stations and eliminating custodial trash collection from individual offices. The payback for the program was achieved in less than one year and custodial costs were reduced, on average, by $50 per employee.
The results were so successful in increasing waste diversion that the program has now been replicated by government institutions and private companies across North America. Today, most provincial buildings in downtown Toronto divert more than 70 per cent of all waste from disposal.
In fact, Google’s London, U.K. office followed suit in 2009 and implemented the removal of trash bins from individual offices. Employees had to walk over to a centralized disposal and recycle station. This one small step alone increased recycling rates at the company by 50 per cent.
Centralized disposal and recycling stations can also help to keep the office cleaner. Instead of overflowing bins with unsorted organic waste and recycling at each workstation (which can result in bacteria and soiling of floor surfaces), custodial staff can collect refuse at key points within the office and deal with waste and recyclables efficiently in the building’s compactor room.
Implementing a centralized recycling station program can provide a cleaner office, save significant dollars in waste removal and custodial costs, and assist in the diversion of waste from landfills.
Gavin Bajin is director of business services at ServiceMaster Canada. He and his team support 70 franchises, delivering janitorial and specialty cleaning services from coast to coast. He can be reached at [email protected].