January 7, 2022
Kick-start the year with some impactful changes at work to reduce waste, increase recycling and improve the environmental footprint of your workplace or business. To make it easy for you to begin your journey, we’ve ranked these tips from the simplest through to the more involved. That way you can work your way up to the bigger changes with the most impact!
Action: Make recycling fool-proof by putting up signs near your bins that clearly show which items can be recycled. This tactic is proven to be effective, especially if the bins are in high-traffic areas.
Result: An increase in recycling and a reduction in the level of contamination in your recycling bin (from items that should have been put in the rubbish bin). This means your recycling has a better chance of being successfully processed and turned into new products and materials.
How: Visit Business Recycling to download our free posters.
Tip! Want to raise your recycling game even further? Set up a recycling station with multiple bins for items that require specialised recycling services, such as soft plastics and food waste. We have posters for those items too!
Action: Wherever possible, purchase products and materials made with recycled content. After all, you’re not fully recycling unless you’re buying recycled products!
Result: Buying products made from recycled content helps our local recycling industry to thrive and signals to manufacturers/brands that sustainability matters. If your workplace or business buys in bulk, this can have a huge impact. You’ll not only help keep valuable materials in use, but also reduce the need for additional ‘virgin’ or new material extraction.
How: There are heaps of products made from recycled content including office paper, pens, building and construction materials, office furniture, toilet paper and stationery. Visit our Recycled Products Directory on Recycling Near You for ideas.
Tip! Office paper made from at least 50% recycled content is one of the easiest switches to make. Recycled paper has come a long way in recent years. You won’t even be able to tell the difference, so why use virgin paper to print your reports? Check out Planet Ark Paper which is made from 100% recycled paper. It’s certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, carbon neutral and has no ream wrappers, meaning less packaging waste!
Action: You might be surprised by how many things you can recycle. If your business or workplace has unwanted items such as televisions, computers, computer accessories, printers, polystyrene foam or chemicals, before sending them to landfill, check to see if they can be reused or recycled.
Result: You’ll prevent valuable materials from wasting away in landfill, ensuring they are used again.
How: Visit Business Recycling to see if there are reuse or recycling services for a range of materials. Simply select the material and enter your post code to see what’s available in your area.
Action: Register for recycling collection boxes for common workplace items that require specialised recycling services such as printer cartridges, mobile phones and batteries. A logistics company will pick up the boxes once they are full. If your business has a shop front, you can also register to be a public drop-off point.
Result: The recycling programs for these items have amazing recovery rates, recycling more than 95% or even 100% of the materials and often sending zero waste to landfill. Recycling these items keeps the valuable resources used to make the products such as metals, plastic and glass in use and out of landfill. E-waste and batteries also often contain toxic materials that are hazardous to our environment when they aren’t recycled correctly. Batteries, for instance, are a fire hazard and should never be put in the garbage or recycling bin. Registering for a battery collection box will ensure they are safely recycled.
How: Recycle used printer and toner cartridges through Cartridges 4 Planet Ark. Collect old or broken mobile phones and mobile accessories for recycling through MobileMuster. Sign up your workplace for a fire-proof battery collection box through Batteries 4 Planet Ark (there is a cost associated with this recycling program).
Action: If your business is required to organise your own waste disposal, it’s important to make sure your waste contractor is doing the right thing. The majority of waste and recycling companies transport and/or process the materials they collect in the correct manner, but it’s always best to ask for information on their processes just in case.
Result: Hiring a waste contractor that recycles correctly and responsibly ensures your good efforts don’t go to waste! If there is environmental legislation in your state or territory, you may even have a legal obligation to ensure that the transporter and the facility receiving your waste have legal authority to undertake that activity.
How: Choosing the right recycler involves a little research to find the right fit for you. Knowing which questions to ask will ensure you hire a contractor that is acting legally and responsibly. We’ve made it easy with a checklist, complete with a list of questions to ask the contractor.
Action: If you really want to make to make an impact, becoming a certified carbon neutral organisation is the way to do it! You can still do this if you have solar or are purchasing renewable energy; becoming carbon neutral will take care of the remaining greenhouse gas emissions your business or workplace generates.
Result: Certified carbon neutral organisations offset all the greenhouse gas emissions they generate, everything from the emissions associated with staff travel to emissions produced from food waste. The greenhouse gas emissions are calculated every year and then offset by supporting projects that reduce emissions or protect vital forests.
How: To become carbon neutral, you must be certified to the national Climate Active Standard (more than 350 organisations in Australia are already certified). Planet Ark is proudly certified carbon neutral, offsetting our greenhouse gas emissions since 2017.
Action: Install solar panels on the roof of your workplace or purchase renewable energy from an energy provider.
Result: Burning fossil fuels to make electricity is a major contributor to the climate crisis. A solar installation will not only drastically reduce your business’ carbon emissions but the cost savings from not having to purchase electricity should eventually pay for the solar panels (large-scale solar systems often pay for themselves within five years). If installing solar isn’t possible, purchasing renewable energy from an energy provider has the same environmental benefits (although it may not be possible for all workplaces if their building management is responsible for providing electricity).
How: Businesses considering installing solar should shop around for the best fit for them. We have put together a helpful Q&A with our solar engineering and technology partner, Planet Ark Power, which should answer some of your questions and help you to understand what to look for in a solar company. If you’re considering purchasing renewable energy, contact your energy provider to see if they have a renewable energy offering. Otherwise, a simple google search will provide you with options.
Still want to do more? Visit the Australian Circular Economy Hub to learn how businesses and industries can become more circular. You'll find valuable resources such as case studies, webinars and research reports designed to help businesses implement sustainable practices.
Rachael joined Planet Ark in early 2019 after eight years working in media and publishing as a producer, editor and writer. Rachael loves using her skills in content creation and communication to instigate positive environmental behaviour change. Outside of work, Rachael enjoys spending time in nature, listening to music and patting dogs.