Waste Reduction & Recycling
Commonly used office supplies, such as paper products, printer toner and ink cartridges, pens and other plastic items, and bottled water can either be reduced in consumption and/or recycled with a little forethought and effort. Even food waste can be diverted form landfills and composted onsite. green|light companies can reduce the amount of waste they send to the landfill by implementing some of these strategies.
See our Recycling Preferred Providers here.
COMPLETE THE FIRST three credits AND AT LEAST four MORE FROM THE LIST BELOW AND LET US KNOW WHEN YOU'RE FINISHED:
Implement Comprehensive Recycling Program
Create and implement a written comprehensive recycling program and require employees to participate. This program must include recycling the following (at minimum): paper, aluminum, glass, cardboard, plastic, electronics, batteries, and fluorescent lamps. Also put in place signage reminding people to recycle. When disposing of furniture, attempt to recycle it or find a place for its reuse, such as Habitat for Humanity Restore. Lastly, appoint a point person to oversee the program. An excellent resource is available on the EPA website. For more information about recycling electronics click here
Conduct an Internal Waste Analysis
It is not necessary to carry out a full waste audit in order to fulfill this task. The purpose is to determine approximate numbers on the volume of waste generated and the amount of different materials like recyclables and food waste that go into the waste stream. An easy way to do this is by tracking the number (and size) of trash bags that leave the office. Before they are discarded, take a peak inside and see what’s in there. Is there glass or aluminum or plastic that can be removed and recycled? Keep track of the approximate amount. For more information about conducting a waste audit visit HERE.
Implement Comprehensive Recycling Program
Create and implement a written comprehensive recycling program and require employees to participate. This program must include recycling the following (at minimum): paper, aluminum, cardboard, plastic, electronics, batteries, and fluorescent lamps. Also, put in place signage reminding people to recycle. When disposing of furniture, attempt to recycle it or find a place for its reuse, such as Habitat for Humanity Restore. Lastly, appoint a point person to oversee the program. An excellent handbook for creating a recycling program can be found HERE
Include a policy for recycling E-Waste, also.
Complete FOUR more tasks either from the options below or custom solutions for your business.
Use Ink Cartridge Refill System and/or Recycle Empty Cartridges
Have your ink cartridges refilled and reuse them. If you are unable to do this because of your cartridge type, properly recycle them in printer cartridge recycling bags. Big box stores like Office Depot and Staples offer coupons and discounts in exchange for your used cartridges. Some local municipal drop-off recycling centers accept ink cartridges. More information is available here.
Chattanooga Office Supply (COS) is a Preferred Provider for sustainable ink cartridge and toner services. They provide a program called Managed Print Solutions (MPS) that can help you manage all of your printing services and reduce waste. You can visit the website below or call COS at (423) 624-0011 and ask for Ken Byrd.
Print Two Sided DocumentS + Draft/Grayscale Setting
If your printer is capable of double sided printing, make it your official office policy to print two-sided whenever possible to reduce waste. If your printer is not capable of two-sided printing, consider doing a cost-benefit analysis of acquiring one that is versus paper savings over time.
Utilize Electronic Documents
Use of electronic documents can drastically reduce the amount of copy paper used in the office. Making electronic forms, like PDFs, is easily done with most word processor and spreadsheet software programs. Tutorials for creating these types of forms can be found here.
compost ORGANIC waste
Composting is the natural breakdown of organic materials, such as leaves, grass, and plant based food scraps, by microorganisms that yields a fertile soil amendment. Used for gardening and in agriculture as a soil additive, compost can replace commercial fertilizers and prevent ozone damaging methane gases from being released when food waste goes to a traditional landfill.
If you can't compost on site or at home, commercial composting is now available in Chattanooga. With commercial composting, which operates at higher heat than traditional composting, any biodegradable materials can be diverted from landfill, even materials that are avoided in traditional back yard composting like dairy products and compostable plastics. Composting service is available for homes and small offices from Compost House and for larger organic waste producers like restaurants and cafeterias from Atlas Organics. Be sure to let them know you are working on green|light.
Replace Paper Towels
Replace paper towels in restrooms by installing energy efficient hand dryers or providing cloth washable hand towels to significantly reduce waste and save energy in restrooms. Check this link for an example of an eco hand dryer that contributes to LEED credits.
USE REUSABLE CUPS AND FLATWARE
It has been estimated that Americans throw away 25 billion styrofoam cups each year and use 2.5 million plastic beverage bottles each hour. A person who disposes of one coffee cup each day generates approximately 23 lbs. of waste a year. A popular idea is to provide a re-usable water bottle to all employees to encourage reduction of waste. Consider asking one of your vendors if they have any “giveaway” water bottles you can distribute to your employees.
Eliminate Bottled Water
Provide a water cooler and encourage staff to use re-usable cups and water bottles. Water cooler varieties can range from basic room temperature water to on demand UV filtered hot and cold water. Alternatively, install a water filtration device on the primary faucets your staff uses for drinking water. Bottled water should only be kept for guests or traveling purposes if you deem it necessary
Provide Reusable Bags
Keep reusable bags in the office for employees to use for shopping or take-out and encourage them to keep reusable bags in their cars as well. You can even have bags made with your logo that double as marketing while you are out shopping. Reusable swag bags with your logo would also send a strong message to your customer base about your commitment to reducing waste.