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Workplace Waste - Why a new approach is needed

Updated: Jun 13

According to the Environment Agency more than 330 million tons of waste is produced in the UK each year, 23% of which comes directly from the commercial sector. Fortunately, this figure is decreasing year on year, but we’ve still got a long way to go.

A trashcan with crumpled yellow papers.

In our own homes we have been separating our general household waste from our recyclable materials for years, but it seems to be harder to convince people to adopt this in the workplace. One of the biggest reasons for this is due to each desk having its own bin. It’s so easy for staff just to throw everything into the same bin without thinking, it’s become a bad habit. By removing desk bins and moving to a centralised system colleagues are held more accountable for separating their waste.

The decision to remove personal desk bins and to only use centralised bins is not always an easy one. In a straw poll of Facility Managers conducted by the FMJ it was revealed that removing individual desk bins was the one thing that was guaranteed to incense staff! We have worked with many clients to implement central collection systems. Each time we see the centralised system implemented, we find there is initial employee push-back with the removal of desk bins. However, as with any new program, employees get used to the new system, especially when they learn that their efforts are really working.

Besides being positive for the environment, centralised waste bins will save money, break negative recycling habits and allow staff to focus on other tasks. Currently, there’s no reason for people to be lazy about recycling, especially when there’s so much at stake.

At WORKPLACE we encourage all our clients to move towards a centralised bin system. The system works because it makes people get up (literally) and think about what they are throwing away. With desk bins, busy employees are not paying as much attention to the items they were discarding and whether they could be recycled.

The decision to move to a centralised system is often a fantastic way to kick start an environmental awareness campaign, as it directly affects everyone in the building. It could count towards your CSR and have an impact on your companies’ carbon neutrality.

Additional benefits to the centralised collection system:

  • a reduction in labour for collection of trash and recyclables (cleaning staff no longer need to spend time emptying bins across the floors),

  • and a significant reduction in the use of small bin liners



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