Inspiring employees to recycle in the workplace may sound easy, but once you immerse yourself in this, you’ll only realise how daunting it is. To succeed, you need strong motivation, perseverance, and, of course, a robust plan.
Although it might seem like a chore, recycling is vital to ensuring a healthy environment. And it’s no longer optional. Every year, companies and organisations worldwide produce a lot of waste, including paper, cardboard, plastics, scrap metal, drinking cups, packaging, and printer cartridges. All these are recyclable, but many of them are still ending up in landfills. Fortunately, sustainability has gotten into the public eye now more than ever, and consequently, more and more companies are more careful of their waste management, many of them implementing fruitful recycling programs in workplaces. Are you doing just the same? Great!
Nevertheless, no matter how well-intended your initiatives are, they’re not always exciting. Motivating and educating employees on how to correctly dispose of their trash and participate in recycling can be daunting when you have no idea where to start. We want to give you a helping hand, so here’s how to ensure your initiatives are a success and encourage workers to be more recycling-oriented.
Educate on environmental matters
One of the most common reasons people don’t participate in recycling is that they’re not educated on this subject – it’s not that they don’t want to. So, the best you can do in this sense is to train your employees on the importance of sustainability and associated practices. It’s much easier for them to dispose of their trash correctly if they know why this matters so much. Luckily, there are lots of resources you can rely on for this purpose, including instructor-led training, simulation training, and collaborative training. During your recycling program, be sure to include everything from the importance of recycling and the impacts of climate change to what materials should be recycled and where. Make them understand the significance of the balers and compactors for recycling you’ve invested in and save any confusion.
It’s your responsibility as a business owner to teach labourers about environmental concerns, so spare no effort in bringing awareness among your team.
Put up signs and reminders
Educating on sustainable measures is not enough – you must ensure that your employees don’t forget what they’ve just learned. With large workloads and deadlines to meet, it’s easy for people to forget about recycling. However, don’t get upset. You can put signs and reminders around the workplace so even the busiest employee will remember where to dispose of their waste. Catchy messages, along with signage and symbols, will encourage them to recycle more often.
Communication is at the heart of any successful business project, be it a marketing campaign or a recycling program. So, ensure you’re visibly involved in recycling so you can introduce the subject into regular discussions with your employees. At the same time, make sure your leadership team invests time in showing workers the best recycling practices. Leading by example has always been a powerful way to form bonds with employees, so don’t hesitate to use it in this situation, too.
Make it easy and accessible
There’s no way to do correct recycling without the right equipment. Therefore, ensure you invest in a streamlined recycling program, which makes employees’ tasks more reachable. Also, be sure to place recycling bins in appropriate and strategic places, such as restrooms and near exits, for everyone to easily get to them. Labels would also help provide workers with information on each bin’s purpose.
Create interesting incentives
It goes without saying that recognition and rewards are powerful motivators. So, in addition to measures of the likes mentioned above, consider creating incentive structures to inspire employees to recycle. This could relate to dividing the workforce into teams and organising competitive games. Thus, the team that will triumph at the end of the month or whatever period you set for the game will receive accolades or win a prize. Or, everyone can work together towards the same goal.
Although often overlooked, goal setting is a powerful method to motivate your team to recycle. It’s like you give people something tangible to strive for, a direction impossible to go past or around. As with any business project, a recycling program must be broken down into smaller goals that are easy to achieve and that make up a greater goal: to make workplace recycling part of every worker’s routine. Also, it’s essential to make these goals easy to track so that you can assess the success of your initiatives and come up with immediate solutions in case something unexpected occurs. And don’t get discouraged if your goals are too small: as passion and knowledge around waste management expand, your goals will too.
Events may seem out of place in this recycling situation, but trust us – they’re not. Sustainability-themed events can get people engaged with the three R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – and be more careful of how and where they toss their trash or leftovers. An event like “Waste-Free Wednesdays” could encourage people to go without waste for a whole day, even if it might seem harsh. This would mean that they must get rid of those single-use cups and bring their lunch in reusable containers. However, you could provide them with such reusable items and show how much you care. Consider also participating in community events, such as tree planting and beach cleaning, to encourage green practices and, at the same time, team-building within your company.
You can organise events weekly, monthly, or even annually, depending on your organisation’s needs and resources. However, it doesn’t really matter how often you host events, as these, whether once a week or once a year, only have one purpose: to remind people how crucial it is to take care of the environment.
Addressing waste management in the workplace has never been easier, especially with the entire team by your side.