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Clever Ways to Get Your Colleagues to Recycle

Posted by Darla F. on 4/3/2017 to Public Space Recycling

You have the recycling stations placed strategically, so what is keeping your company from recycling? The answer may be a very simple one – employee participation. Put your conductor's cap on and consider some inventive ways to get your colleagues to climb aboard the recycle train.

Keep Them Accountable

The nice thing about modern recycling bins is they come in all shapes and sizes. Instead of setting up one centralized recycle station per floor or department, sustainability program managers can put individual bins at each desk, complete with the employee names or titles. You’ll be able to spot pretty quickly who is and who isn’t complying.

  • Empty bins mean they are dumping their trash elsewhere and they’re busted!
  • Bins full of the wrong items indicate a little recycling re-education is in order.
  • Bins properly sorted shows an employee bucking for a bonus and maybe even getting one.

Individual bins tell you all you need to know about everyone in the company from the boss to the interns.

Make It Competitive

Set different stations up for different groups and challenge them to collect the most recyclable cans & bottles. Two things will happen with this plan:

  • They will work harder to recycle.
  • They will spy on their team members to make sure they are complying.

Set up some rules beforehand like no bringing in your cans from home and give them a powerful incentive to win a free lunch or maybe even a cash bonus.

Make Recyclers Royalty

Think of it as an employee of the month type of competition. Give each office or desk their own recycle bin and see who complies best per:

  • Month
  • Quarter
  • Year

The top reward could be anything from their picture on the wall in the break room to an extra day off or cash bonus. You decide how much effective recycling is worth to your business.

Make It Business-to-Business

Expand your recycling challenge to another company and make it personal. Challenge a neighboring corporation in your office park or tower to a "Green Business" contest, for instance. If you work for state or local government, plan a contest where city agencies challenge each other to recycle the most waste each month. Or, your business might offer the challenge to its top competitor.

Each company or organization can keep track of how much recycling they collect by the pound. At the end of the contest, the losing company’s employees wash the winning one's cars or buy their drinks – something fun but with just the right amount of sting.

Make Recycling Second Nature

Make the bins or recycle stations hard to ignore by putting them all over the place. This way, they just look bad if they don’t use them. After awhile, they will start looking for the bins before discarding out of habit.

Reinforce Positive Recycling Habits!

Along with placing bins within eyesight wherever they go, make a game out of complementing each other for using them. Start by tagging a few employees to play. This select group will offer a positive compliment every time they see someone using a recycle bin such as:

  • “Hey, I saw you recycling just now. Nice job.”
  • “Good recycle there, buddy, high five!”

Make the compliments as positive and cheerful as possible, so they get noticed. Before you know it, everyone will be playing and smiling while they do it.

If your employees are not cooperating with your attempts to recycle, then it’s time for an intervention. Give them a reason to recycle that is fun and rewarding.