Most companies recycle at work, but getting a free waste review can improve your recycling and lead to savings down the road.
Ruby Receptionists wanted to reduce the amount of to-go containers from employee lunches that ended up in the trash. Their challenge was educating staff and getting them to break the disposable container habit.
They started by purchasing some reusable containers for employee use and placing them in a highly visible location. Then, they held a contest to encourage employees to use them, with weekly drawings for prizes. The result? A phenomenal 80 percent participation rate throughout the office, fewer disposable items in the trash and a big reduction in the amount of garbage the company produced.
Provvista Specialty Foods
Provvista wanted to reduce the amount of packaging materials that filled their garbage containers. The biggest offenders were block Styrofoam, visqueen air bags and styrofoam peanuts. Through a careful inventory of the packaging materials that came in the door, Provvista found that many of the packaging materials could be re-used in their own shipping. Today, the company reuses nearly all the packaging materials they receive, and the remaining materials are recycled.
This project inspired the company to take a further step: asking of all their vendors to reduce the amount of packaging they use, and to use environmentally preferable packaging (like biodegradable peanuts and re-usable coolers) when possible. Best of all, Provvista has been able to accomplish their goals without risking product quality or safety.
Residence Inn by Marriot Downtown/Riverplace, Portland, OR
Designed years ago with a small recycling system that only collected newspaper and cardboard, the Residence Inn at Riverplace wanted to do more to respond to guest requests for green hotel practices. In 2007, they began to focus on increased recycling, and were able to quickly expand their collection rates and the kinds of materials that were being recycled, which now includes paper, metals and plastics in one easy container.
Educating and motivating staff at the hotel took some effort, since the Riverplace Residence Inn employees speak at least nine different first languages. Recycling trainings were conducted with translation to make sure everyone understood. The hotel also started a Recycler of the Week Award, which gives employees a pat on the back and a $25 gift card to Fred Meyer to reward their efforts.
Future plans include "flipping the system" to have a bigger container for recycling and a smaller one for garbage, as is standard in most companies. The ultimate goal is for the Residence Inn to recycle more material than is sent to the landfill.
Albertsons Barnes Road, Beaverton, OR
The Albertsons on Barnes Road in Beaverton wanted to take actions in their store that would support a corporate focus on being green and efficient. In early 2012, they conducted a Waste Review with the City of Beaverton’s Recycle at Work program. The Recycling Specialist from Beaverton visited the store and spent 45 minutes identifying specific opportunities where Albertsons could increase recycling and create less waste.
The Specialist reviewed operations in the bakery, deli, produce and other departments to pinpoint weaknesses and strengths in the store’s recycling system. Recycling boxes were placed in all departments, offices and the break room, along with posters encouraging staff to recycle and educating them on best practices.
The store has future plans to decrease the size of their outdoor trash compactor now that they’re creating less garbage waste. Albertsons staff appreciated the attention to detail, thorough explanation and multiple follow ups from the Recycling Specialist and is eager to recommend the Recycle at Work program to other Albertson stores and businesses in the community.