Stepping up your building’s recycling

Simplify the process with a proactive approach.
Friday, May 26, 2023

For maintenance managers, recycling can often be part of the mandate to improve efficiency and lower your building’s carbon footprint. As sustainability becomes even more crucial for your business, there are a few simple ways to get your recycling to the next level and improve your building’s performance.

Create waste streams

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), creating a “waste stream” is crucial, which looks at the lifecycle of your garbage and recyclables, planning from its origin to end. This process starts with an assessment of what materials you regularly amass, destroy, throw out, and recycle. Once you can see the process from start to finish, you can create better ways to address where your waste is going and where you can limit or better allocate your recycling materials.

Look at the required disposal or recycling for things like building materials, electronics, and any other specialty items you’ll need to incorporate into your plan. Regularly assess the process to stay on top of everyday ways you can be improving your performance.

Reduce and reuse

Waste prevention is the best way to reduce your recycling, so determine whether there are areas where you can cut out generating waste, so you don’t have to plan for disposal. For example, look at the suppliers and products you are ordering. Are there options with greener practices or less packaging? Can you limit your building’s paper use and printing? Reallocating can also be an effective way to lessen waste, by reusing office furniture or supplies to avoid throwing them out. Also, engaging your teams to do their part can make a difference. Making little changes like switching to drip coffee, encouraging reusable mugs, and buying kitchen supplies in bulk to limit packaging is a good way to start.

Make it easy

Avoiding contamination is important for effective recycling, so that non-recyclable items do not get mixed in. The easier you make the process, the more time you’ll save in getting it right. Add signage so staff knows how and where to dispose of garbage and recycling, separate containers for easy sorting, and be sure your bins are accessible. Do your research. Some recyclables, like glass and aluminum, can be contained together, while food waste and plastics must be separated.

Training is key here, too. Once you have completed the assessment and have a proactive plan in place, making sure your teams are on board is essential to successful execution.

As a maintenance manager, improving the performance of your building includes lowering your carbon footprint, and paying attention to recycling is a great place to start. But you don’t have to figure it out on your own. There are a variety of online tools that can help you create a plan and execute a strategy that will reduce your building’s impact on the environment and improve your recycling efforts.

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