Between 1950, when we humans started to manufacture plastic, and now, approximately 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced, which involves the use of a gigantic amount of energy and the consequent massive emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Something similar occurs with many other materials that are commonplace in society. Their production inevitably leads to pollution. However, as this World Recycling Day, celebrated today, May 17, reminds us, this pollution is significantly reduced when it is produced from discarded materials. Hence the importance of recycling. Also in the office.
Importance of recycling in an office
Recycling makes it possible to use materials to generate new materials at lower energy costs, which considerably reduces human pressure on the environment, on the animals that inhabit it and on the climate. This is and should always be the main motivation for implementing recycling strategies in the office. Commitment to nature and to humanity. But there are reasons beyond that. Such as the fact that consumers prefer to buy products and services from companies that care for the environment. Failure to follow sustainability practices is a reputational penalty. Society expects commitment.
In addition, and as some scientific research shows, a green office increases the productivity, happiness and health of its workers. This in turn has several rewards. On the one hand, better collective company performance that drives growth and development. On the other hand, greater talent retention. Most people are aware of climate change and the danger it represents, so they feel more comfortable and fulfilled in environments that strive to combat it. They are more likely to identify with the company's values and want to stay with the company.
Finally, the importance of the recycling attitude in the office manifests itself in the form of economic benefits for the company. After all, a commitment to sustainability means improving the use of material resources and increasing energy efficiency, two aspects that have a direct impact on overall costs. In this sense, a green office is an office that saves on resources and increases the economic profit margin. As we can see, there are more than enough reasons to implement recycling in the office. It is time to see what kind of actions can be taken.
How to implement recycling in the office
Before delving into potential recycling strategies for the operational phase of offices, it is worth remembering that the green character of offices can and should begin in the construction and refurbishment phase. At Colonial, for example, we always try to use recycled or local materials that reduce the carbon footprint. This is the first step. From there, it is up to the companies that occupy those offices in our catalog to continue the recycling work, something that in the first instance requires a material audit, whether internal or external. It is essential to know the exact use of the various raw materials on a day-to-day basis.
Once the use of materials in the office has been X-rayed, and its scope and the need to redirect it understood, it is time to apply the popular current of the three Rs of recycling. The first of these is reduction: Are there solutions available that make it possible to dispense with a material whose production is highly polluting? It is worth looking into. Such as reducing the use of paper in favor of digital computer technologies. The second is reuse: can some of the materials disposed of be used directly for other purposes that are of interest to the company? Again, this should be studied. The third is recycling itself.
And here different solutions come into play. The most elementary of them all is the installation of containers for each type of product and the proper management of the waste: either depositing it in the corresponding containers in the streets or hiring a company dedicated to waste management to come to the office to empty them and carry out the transfer. Plastics, glass, cardboard and above all paper. A good attitude in the office can lead to greater recycling of these materials. But it is not only the containers that play a role in this. It is also the willingness of the employees to recycle. Another solution is to train them in recycling.
In addition, another solution to harmonize the overall recycling strategy in an office, and to motivate employees, is the creation of a recycling manager, a person specifically responsible for promoting recycling and leading the implementation of measures and innovation in tactics. Study the actions of the competition. Create recycling performance reports. Develop and disseminate internal awareness campaigns. There are many mechanisms through which this figure can significantly increase the material sustainability of an office. And the office of the present and the future must be sustainable. There is no other option.