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How to set up your recycling station for optimum results.

If you’re about to invest a significant amount of money into a new top-class recycling solution, it’s important to ensure that you get as much as possible out of it.  In this article, we’ll guide you through how to ensure that your recycling station is as effective as possible.

What waste streams do I require?

The first thing to consider here is what waste streams your waste broker collects.  Obviously, if you only have general waste & mixed recycling collected, there’s no point in spending money on a recycling station that segregates recycling into 5 separate streams.  If you want to segregate your waste better than you are currently, then the first thing to do is talk to your waste broker, or maybe even find a new one.  Once these back-of-house processes are set up, it’s time to start thinking about how to effectively segregate the waste front-of-house.  You may even consider using multiple waste brokers; for example, a separate collection for food waste.

That being said, we do see a lot of trends in recycling segregation.  The most common configuration of waste streams is a 3 waste stream unit with food waste, general waste, and mixed recycling.  More and more offices now are also recycling coffee cups, as the technology and facilities to do this are improving rapidly.  We also supply a lot of our units with liquid collection; this is especially useful if you’re segregating coffee cups, as these are often not fully emptied.  Another common waste stream is confidential waste – many offices have a partnership with a confidential shredding company.

All these waste streams can be built into our recycling stations – we supply lockable units for confidential waste, liquid collection tanks, cup stacker units for coffee cup recycling, and waste streams with soft-close lids for food waste.

What signage do I need?

Just as important as selecting your waste streams, is setting up clear signage that effectively communicates to your staff what waste can go where.  This needs to be given careful consideration, especially if you’re starting to recycle more or different waste streams than before.  So here are 3 pointers to help you set up the most effective signage possible, thereby increasing your recycling rates & decreasing general waste collection costs.

Keep it concise

It may be tempting to have long lists on the backboard of what can & can’t go in each waste stream, thinking that this makes it very clear to staff what goes where.  In reality, however, staff are unlikely to read every word, and the really important information can get lost in the noise.  It’s usually more effective to have literature in the form of a poster near the station giving more details of the waste streams, and keeping the signage on the bin itself and simple and concise as possible.

Make it specific

We’ve already established why you shouldn’t put all the information on the station itself, but to minimise contaminated recyclable waste, it’s often worth putting a little more than just a heading for each waste stream.  If there are certain items that your staff are repeatedly disposing of incorrectly, then just a little more information on your unit could go a long way.  For example, if employees are putting food in the general waste stream, you may want something saying ‘no food’ on your general waste aperture.  If you can solve problems specific to your office, this will go a long way toward eliminating contaminated recyclable waste.

Make it as clear as possible

Everything about the design of your station should be configured to make recycling as easy as possible for your staff, thereby increasing recycling rates & reducing contamination.  We can offer any amount of signage & labelling to make this possible, but here are a few of the most common ideas we implement for our clients.

We often supply signage not only on the unit’s backboard but also on the doors below the waste streams and the worktop around the apertures.  We also often colour-code waste streams, using colours on the backboard, on the door graphics, on the waste chutes and even use colour-coded liners.  This is often the single most effective feature, as once your staff know which colour is which, they can tell in an instant where to put their waste.  Where possible, we recommend using the WRAP colours for waste streams.  The Waste Resource Action Program (WRAP) is a governing body which seeks to standardise waste recycling across the country, by using standard colours, symbols & signage.  You’ll recognise these symbols & colours from your household recycling, especially at your local civic amenity centre.  These waste streams won’t always perfectly translate into how you recycle at work, but by using the colours & symbols where possible, you’ll make it easier for staff to identify waste streams.

Is there anything else I need to bear in mind?

One thing to note is where your stations are going to be located.  All staff must know where their nearest station is to ensure they will actually use them.  If it’s not in a prominent position in your office space, you may want to consider getting some extra signage to point people in the right direction.  You’ll also need to consider how many stations your office needs.  We’ve already written a post all about that – click here to find it.

Sometimes just having clear signage on your recycling station isn’t quite enough.  Especially if you’re implementing a new recycling system, you may want to consider giving your staff some extra recycling education.  This will not only clarify it in their minds, but it’s also a good way to show your staff how seriously you take recycling.  You may even want to appoint a green champion for your office – read our blog post all about that here.

If you’re wanting any more details, you can view our pricing page here, or contact us below, and one of the team will be in touch shortly.