How to encourage recycling at work

Separating glass, paper and plastic

When I first arrived at the company where I work, I noticed that we were about 30 people having lunch daily, eating products ordered at Albert Heijn supermarket and we were throwing away a lot of packaging into one rubbish bin.  At home I automatically sort my paper, plastic, glass and food scraps, so I felt frustrated not to be able to do it at work.  After a few months I asked the office manager if we couldn’t set up recycling and her answer was that there was no use in sorting out our waste because the rubbish was all picked up together in one truck.  I was disappointed, but I felt there was not that much I could do.  Still every day it made me sad and frustrated to see all this rubbish all thrown into one bin.

One day on a lunch time walk I noticed that just on the opposite side of the street from the office, there was a rubbish point with separate bins for: Plastic, Glass and Paper.  So I decided to give recycling at the office another try. I didn’t wait for approval from the office manager because clearly there was no enthusiasm on her side. I set up 3 plastic boxes with a sign on each so people would know what to put in them.

Recycling ideas

Recycling ideas

Then I stuck a note on the fridge explaining how people could help me recycle, what products fit into what category and saying that I would take the responsibility to empty out the boxes daily. It took a while to catch on, but the boxes are now filling up regularly. I still fish out lots of plastic and cardboard from the main bin to sort it out (to the disgust of one of my colleagues who thinks I am crazy and has nicknamed me ‘Greenpeace’).  Ideally I wish we did not have all this packaging in the first place, but since it is here at least I feel better knowing that what I throw away will be recycled.

This experience reminded me that if I want something I shouldn’t wait for it to happen by magic. I need to take the responsibility and do what I can to make it happen because in the end I am the one who really cares about it. It doesn’t matter what other people think and actually they will most likely be happy to help.


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