Skip to content

It’s one thing to invest in the right tools for recycling at work, such as office recycling bins, recycling stations etc, but it’s another thing to get your employees to adopt these into their day to day habits.  Much like the saying, you can drag a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

So, here are a few ideas to help you encourage your staff to correctly segregate waste at source.

Idea 1:  Make it easy

This also features in Michael Gove’s, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs , 4 point plan.   We are lazy by nature, so unless a process is easy to do, we tend to ignore it.

  • Don’t just install office recycling bins by the printer.  Ensure you have the right number of bins in your office or work space.
  • Move away from under bench bins, and move towards recycling hubs / areas – a go to place where recycling is sign posted and visual.   It is far to easy to be lazy and avoid correct recycling habits when you have a bin under your bench.
  • Make sure you have a bin for every occasion, every type of waste.   Naturally, there is no one size fits all so review each environment on it’s own merit – there really is no point using the same recycling hub system across all departments.  Waste in an admin office will be worlds apart from waste in, say, the warehouse.

“…. make it easier for individuals to know what goes into the recycling bin and what goes into general rubbish”  Michael Gove.


easy to use centralised recycling bin station for offices with clear signage

Idea 2:  Make it funrecycling fun

Again, this is depends on the personality of your brand, some brands allow for adventure, some won’t but there’s room for a little fun in every business.  Here’s one idea you may wish to replicate or at least take inspiration from.

Idea 3:  Stakeholder engagement

Sometimes it takes a little nudge.   We’ve already written a blog titled ‘ The Psychology of Recycling‘ which details how changing the way people think about waste, changes the way people manage it.  Amongst many studies, influence and association features highly.

If your workforce believe there is real commitment from Board level, then half the battle is done.  Even better, ensure all employees right up to the CEO or Director is seen to be doing the right thing.  Otherwise, some may feel your company is just playing lip service to their Corporate Sustainability and Recycling goals.

Idea 4:  Ambassadors

Many businesses have Charity Ambassadors, Sports & Social Ambassadors, so why not recruit members from your workforce, from a number of departments and/or roles to become Recycling Ambassadors.  A conduit between the coal face and the management, who manage the process of recycling change.

Idea 5:  Embed it into your day to day meetings

Do you have daily stand up meetings sometimes known as WIG (Wildly Important Goal) meetings, if so add recycling to the agenda.

Idea 6:  Communication

Consider sending out an email or bulletin about your renewed commitment to recycling and listing all the various types of items that can and should be recycled at work. Post recycling reminders on the walls near the bins, listing the types of items that employees can recycle.

Idea 7:  Recycler of the Month Awardsrecycler of the month award

A concept commonly used for Employee of the Month, adapt the process and start rewarding employees who are making the right choice when it comes to recycling.

Think about the rewards most appreciated amongst your employees? Cash prizes are often the most desirable but an employee reward program does not have to be confined to monetary compensation. Other lucrative incentives might include free company parking for a month, a day off, a spa day or a trophy with the employee’s name engraved on it.

Idea 8:  Make it a nice place to be / Hygiene

When we speak to our clients, one of the common push backs of recycling within the workplace is hygiene.  If the recycling hubs or bins are overflowing, smelly and unsightly, employees will be put off.

Idea 9:  IncentiviseReverse vending | Deposit Reward | CafeCrush

If all else fails, entice them with a reward.  You may be familiar with the term reverse vending or deposit return scheme. 

What you may not be familiar with is the concept that you can have your own on-site reward system.  

CafeCrush™ is a great example of a scheme you could easily bring into your workplace.  The same height as an average vending machine, it can be programmed (quite easily) to reward whatever fits within your brand ethos.  Some dispense a voucher to redeem against money off next purchase, some provide promotional incentives like 2 for 1 off branded goods whilst others give out a token to confirm the deposited bottle (cup or can) has triggered a donation to the companies nominated charity.

At Unisan UK, we provide game-changing solutions that enable our customers to rethink their traditional approaches & demonstrate their commitment to environmental sustainability, whilst making recycling easier and more efficient.

Keen to learn more? 

Check out our inspiration page for ideas on how you can improve recycling rates in the office:

inspiration for stylish office recycling bins

Recycling laws in Wales have changed. Is your business compliant?