A Guide To Office Recycling

Office Recycling

Office bins can easily get overlooked when it comes to planning out workspaces and recycling systems. Choosing the right bins for your work environment is in fact integral to keeping office spaces clean, green, and organised. The more employees in your offices, the more potential to create waste. According to recent research carried out by the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, UK businesses lose up to 5% of annual turnover through avoidable waste. This makes it all the more important to consider the office bins and recycling practices in your workplace. In this guide, we share:

  • How to get started with choosing office bins for your workplace;
  • Where to begin with creating green routines; and
  • How to encourage your employees to embrace waste sorting

With stricter UK regulations coming into force in favour of having waste management solutions properly implemented in businesses, choosing the right office bins is extremely important. At Litter Bins, we stock hundreds of office bins to enable you to get started with waste collection and office recycling in your commercial space.

Why do you need an office recycling system?

You may well be wondering why you can’t stick with simply having individual waste bins in the office, and why you need to go through the process of setting up an office recycling system. There are a few key reasons why it’s essential for workplaces moving forward:

  • Centralising waste to encourage employees to rethink waste and recycle instead
  • Reducing cost and improving efficiency with fewer bins to empty
  • Meeting government regulations, including regional legislation on waste separation and collection, and GDPR rules to demonstrate proper disposal of confidential information

What are the benefits of office recycling?

Getting started with office recycling may feel like an intimidating task, but the benefits can be endless:

  • Protects the environment - keeps local communities cleaner; reduces the waste sent to landfill; and reduces your business’ environmental footprint
  • Saves money by reducing waste, energy, and bills. Reduced desk waste also means cleaning fees will be reduced, as well as fees for waste production 
  • An effective recycling strategy ensures your business is compliant with national regulations
  • Improves corporate social responsibility (CSR), promoting growth within your business as recruits increasingly want to work for corporations with a social conscience
  • Great for business image and growth, as customers could be influenced by sustainability practices and accountability
  • Generates additional funds where recyclables can be sold to other businesses for different uses
  • Creates a more sustainable workplace, with employees developing an automatic response to recycling instead of disposing of waste
  • Creates a collective culture. Employees can participate together to make a positive change in the office

What can be recycled in the office?

It can be confusing to understand what can and can’t be recycled, especially with so many different materials and waste channels. Common materials that can be recycled within the office include the following:

  • Paper and cardboard
  • Plastic
  • Glass
  • Electrical equipment including computers 
  • Timber
  • Metal
  • Aggregates
  • Textiles and carpet
  • Printer cartridges
  • Batteries
  • Food and drink waste 
Group of Office Recycling Bins with Clear Signage

Each of these materials requires indoor or outdoor recycling bins as well as the relevant agreements with your waste carrier. Clear signage and colour coding can help your employees to separate these items. There are a few steps you can take to better understand which materials in your office can be recycled:

  • Carry out an audit of your workplace’s waste to see what it consists of. This will help you to understand what is working, and areas of opportunity to increase the amount of recycling or the cadence of collection
  • Speak to your waste service provider to understand their requirements and specifications
  • Establish goals for your office recycling system so that you can benchmark your current status against key achievements moving forward

Which UK industry standards and regulations do businesses need to follow when recycling?

Another essential layer you’ll need to consider when it comes to ordering your office bins and recycling system is industry regulations. Every business has a number of responsibilities to meet within the workplace. It will vary slightly depending on which country your business is located in, the amount of waste, the frequency of collection, and the type of waste. Here’s a roundup of the key UK legislation and government guidelines for workplace recycling:

Office recycling legislation in England

  • You must be using a waste carrier that is registered to dispose of commercial waste
  • Waste is your legal responsibility until collection
  • If you’re disposing of your own waste, you must be registered or you could face a fine
  • Waste has to be stored safely and securely 
  • Different types of waste must be stored separately
  • Outdoor or indoor recycling bins must be used to separate different types of recyclables from other kinds of waste

Unfortunately, the rest of the UK varies slightly.

Office recycling legislation in Wales

  • Waste must be separated legally in line with the Environmental (Wales) Act, with paper, card, plastic, metal, glass, food, textiles, and electricals to be recycled
  • You must confirm that the waste hierarchy has been applied
  • Appropriate care must be taken with regard to the Waste Duty of Care Code of Practice from the Environmental Protection Act 1990
  • New legislation coming into force in 2023 stipulates that from an expected start date of 1 October 2023, there will be stricter separation and recycling requirements for all business, public, and third-sector premises in Wales. This is to improve the quality and quantity of how waste is collected and separated, with an aim to reach zero waste in Wales by 2050

Office recycling legislation in Scotland

  • All waste should be stored safely and securely in indoor recycling bins or outdoor recycling bins
  • You have a duty of care in your business to separate waste for recycling, including glass, cardboard, metal, and plastic. Food waste should be further separated, particularly in hospitality businesses
  • Any services providing a single bin solution should be reported to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)
  • All waste must be transferred to an authorised collector
  • Waste should have a waste transfer note which you need to keep for two years
  • If you are carrying your own waste, you must be registered with SEPA. Registration is free. Non-compliance can lead to a fine of up to £10,000

Office recycling legislation in Northern Ireland

  • You must comply with the Duty of Care for waste, and check the waste to ensure any non-compliant material is removed
  • Glass, metal, plastic, paper, cardboard and food waste must be separated for recycling ready for collection. 
  • Additional compliance is required for items like batteries, electricals, fridges, air conditioning, and vehicles
  • You must be a registered waste carrier with the Northern Ireland Environmental Agency
  • You need to work with authorised waste treatment facilities 
  • Keep waste transfer notes accompanying the waste for two years
  • You must have consignment notes to go with hazardous waste and keep these for three years

How do you begin rolling out an office recycling system?

There are a few different elements that go into implementing your office recycling system, but it doesn’t need to be complicated. From choosing the best office bins for your workplace to getting your employees on board with recycling, we’ve listed out our recommended strategies to getting started.

Create a recycling plan

Before you can really get started with choosing which office bins or recycling stations you need, you need to create a recycling plan for your business. In your plan, you should include the following:

  • Benchmarks including the amount of waste created before your strategy is implemented
  • The findings and results of your waste audit
  • What you’re planning to recycle
  • The equipment you need to make your goals a reality
  • Your goals and any milestones you’d like to achieve. A primary goal could be, for instance, reducing waste disposal by 30% in your first year; by 50% in your second year, and so on
  • How often you are going to review the results of your plan and assess the results
  • How you are planning to engage employees in recycling

Change employee attitudes to recycling

Once your waste recycling stations and office bins have been chosen, you’ll need the buy-in from your employees for the system to really work. A good way to introduce this is to appoint a number of recycling advocates to champion the new system to their colleagues. All team members will need to understand why recycling and waste separation is key, and the advantages not only for the business but as a positive action for themselves. Here are a few key ways to implement a change in mentality to office recycling:

  • Share educational posters around the workspace on recycling best practices
  • Implement appropriate colour coding and labelling for any waste streams
  • Promote your recycling initiative before the bins are implemented for anticipation
  • Incentivise employees to recycle as much as feasibly possible
  • Inspire staff to help in hitting company recycling goals
  • Request feedback and carry out employee surveys for any thoughts or questions on how the recycling process could be easier

Allow a transition period

Naturally, it takes time to shift the mentality on recycling and to transition from defaulting to throwing things into waste bins to separating waste efficiently. Give employees sufficient time to get used to separating waste, and have your recycling stations ready before removing waste bins. Gradually, you can remove waste office bins so staff have no choice but to use centralised recycling systems. This period of transition will help staff slowly get used to the changes and reprogram their methods of waste disposal. You should allow for this transition period as part of your recycling plan.

Consider the recycling equipment you require

Now that you have a clearer idea of what you’ll be recycling in your workplace and your goals in mind, you’ll need to consider the recycling equipment you need in place to achieve change. Think realistically about the sufficient quantity of units you’ll require for the number of employees. One recycling station for every 30 employees is typically a good rule of thumb. When it comes to choosing office bins, you should ensure they’re visible to inspire your employees and encourage them to recycle. Bright colours can help when it comes to waste sorting, provided they’re consistent with your waste provider’s specifications.

Bright Office Recycling Bins

How to choose the right office bins for your workplace

One of the key pieces of recycling and waste separation equipment you’ll need for your workplace is office bins. There are a number of simple questions you need to ask when buying office bins for your workplace. Nobody wants to spend money on office bins that aren’t fit for purpose. The following considerations will help you to choose the right office bins for your commercial spaces:

The function of your office bins

You should first ask yourself who will actually be using the office bins? Staff, or visitors too? How many employees do the bins need to cater for? Are you an educational workplace, where many different types of waste will be disposed of? Which materials need to be sorted - paper, plastics, and glass? If confidential information needs to be disposed of, lockable office bins may be a requirement. If your workplace has kitchens and breakout areas, food waste disposal bins will be necessary, as well as having lids on your bins to prevent odours. Do you have any hazardous waste to be disposed of, like batteries or ashtrays? For different types of waste, having selective sorting sections in your office bins for waste separation will save hours. Answering these questions will help you to establish the criteria necessary for the office bins and waste sorting systems needed in your workplace.

The amount of waste and frequency of emptying 

The amount of waste created depends, of course, on your operations and the number of people in your commercial space. You will want a good estimation of the anticipated volumes of waste so you choose office bins with appropriate capacity. This is where a waste audit is crucial to help you understand how much waste and the types of waste produced by your business. Capacity is often dependent on the frequency with which your office bins will be emptied. If this is less often than you’d like, larger capacity bins may be essential. At Litter Bins, we stock office bins in all kinds of sizes and capacities, but having a good understanding of these factors will make your requirements much clearer.

Finding the right home for your office bins

How large are your offices? Is the space spread out or open plan, and have you considered the office bin to people ratio in your workspace? It’s important to think about the available space so that you can make a good estimation as to the amount of waste collection units that you will need. Would an office recycling station offer the more sophisticated recycling setup that you need, with a straightforward separation of different waste and recyclables? Nobody wants a huge bin for a small office space, and equally bins that are too small and won’t be emptied frequently can prove frustrating and inefficient. Consider the waste you’re dealing with, and the quantity of office bins required. Perhaps you’ll need office recycling bins at each desk bank for sorting paper and cardboard, and a separate bin for food waste in the kitchen area, for instance.

The style of office bins required

While office bins are functional, nobody wants an eyesore in their boardroom. With so many styles of office bins available, you should consider office bins that will blend seamlessly into your office environment. Putting practical requirements first, have a look at the different styles that might work best for your office areas. The frequency of emptying will help you to determine the style of bin required too. If, for example, your office waste bins are emptied each day, a sleek office bin that fits easily under each desk may work wonders. Smart stainless steel bins may complement your meeting rooms, instead of bulkier, coloured plastic bins. Our diverse range of office bins at Litter Bins means you can choose the right style for your individual workspace in a way that’s both stylish and practical. We offer a selection of materials, no matter what the function of your office bin:

  • Plastic office bins - for resistance and impact indoors, perfect for workshops and industrial spaces. Transparent plastic bins allow the opportunity to show the quality and quantity of recycling being carried out.
  • Stainless steel office bins - a great option for outdoor office bins where required. They’re robust, durable, and offer a professional, timeless appearance.
  • Cardboard office bins - an ultra affordable, lightweight, and mobile recycling solution.
  • Wooden office bins - an aesthetically pleasing choice for outdoor areas in your workplace, able to withstand all kinds of weather.
Three Bay Office Recycling Station
Product Code: Wastee

Your budget for office bins

While we all wish we had an endless budget to choose the perfect products for what we need in our businesses, we understand you’ll likely be capped by a budget for implementing your waste collection and recycling solutions. Thankfully, at Litter Bins we have a wide range of great value office bins to suit all purposes. From budget bins to stylish high end models, our wide choice caters to all budgets and commercial spaces.

Additional items for your office bins

Adding some accessories to your office bins can make the world of difference when it comes to signage for waste separation or maintaining effective waste collection. Here are a few of our recommendations:

  • Bin liners. Heavy duty bin liners are a must for any larger office bins or recycling bins where large volumes of waste are collected. Our range of bin liners are high quality and are a reliable investment for those handling waste collection.
  • Coloured lids. Having clear colour coding is key to having a waste separation system that works effectively. Office bin models like our Open Top Recycling Bin with Coloured Lids and Stickers have brightly coloured customisable lids for identifying different types of waste at first glance to make recycling really easy.
  • Wheels. Depending on the mobility required for your office bins, you may want to consider adding wheels to make life a little easier. A classic model like our 120 Litre Wheelie Bin makes the transportation of waste or recycling a whole lot simpler.
  • Lockable lids. For any confidential waste or documents that may need to be protected from theft in unsupervised workspaces, lockable lids can be a gamechanger for your office bins. The Slim Jim Confidential Paper Recycling Bin with Lock is perfect for disposing of confidential documents in professional environments where sensitive data is frequently shared.

How to maintain your office bins

Your office bins will probably be in frequent use by employees and visitors, but it’s essential to clean and maintain them efficiently so they remain useful and safe. Here are a few steps to looking after your office bins:

  1. Have your bins emptied as frequently as required - especially if they contain food or general waste. The last thing you need is a smelly workplace, which can be damaging for staff and visitors alike! Waste that is left could attract maggots, flies, and rodents - especially in the summer months - which can pose pest and hygiene risks for your workplace.
  2. Ensure your cleaning team regularly services your office bins. They must be maintained to hygienic standards, otherwise, infestation and contamination can occur. Lids should be cleaned with disinfectant a couple of times a week, and bin interiors should be disinfected weekly. Your office bins should be left to fully dry to prevent any mould from forming. Open aperture and touch lid bins can help to minimise dirt.
  3. Regularly change your bin liners. Fresh bin liners will help to keep bins clean and safe. A top tip is adding a sprinkle of bicarbonate of soda into the bottom of the bin before adding the bin liner in order to prevent odours and moisture.
  4. Keep your bins looking good - for stainless steel bins, a microfibre cloth and glass cleaner can keep them looking shiny, perfect for bins in the boardroom where you want to impress