A step-by-step guide to setting up a recycling station at work

A step-by-step guide to setting up a recycling station at work

By Rachael Ridley  January 16th, 2023

Want to make your office or workplace more environmentally friendly? Setting up a recycling station for things that can’t go in your standard recycling bin is a great way to reduce your workplace’s environmental impact.

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Workplace products like batteries and electronics are often fully or partially recyclable but require specialised recycling services. You can prevent these valuable materials from wasting away in landfill by providing your colleagues with easy access to recycling.

Below you can see the recycling station we set up in the Planet Ark office for inspiration! Note: the soft plastics recycling program, REDcycle, has been temporarily suspended but should be back soon.

Follow these steps to create your own recycling station.  

1. Find a place in your office or workplace to put the bins

This is the first step because the amount of space you have available will determine the number of recycling bins you can actually fit. Behaviour change science has shown people are more likely to recycle if the bins are placed in a prominent position in a commonly used space. The kitchen, lunchroom, or foyer are all good spots. 

2. Pick the materials you want to collect for recycling

Lots of products that can’t go in your standard recycling bin have specialised recycling services, most of which are free to use. Some of these products have programs that will supply you with a collection box, while others will require drop off (most workplaces will only need to drop off the items a few times a year). Some available recycling options for common workplace products include: 

  • Printer cartridges – Australians have already recycled more than 52 million cartridges through our recycling program, Cartridges 4 Planet Ark. Both the cartridge and the ink are recycled, with zero waste to landfill. If your office uses more than three cartridges per month, you may be eligible for a free collection box. Otherwise, there are thousands of public drop-off points available around the country.  

  • Batteries – Australia has a national recycling scheme for batteries with drop-off points located across the country. It’s very important that batteries are never put into garbage or recycling bins because they are a fire hazard. Ask your colleagues to put some sticky tape over the terminal (the electrical point of the battery) to make sure they don’t start a fire.  A safer way to collect batteries is to purchase a fire-proof collection box through our recycling program, Batteries 4 Planet Ark. The box costs $89.95, which includes drop-off and pick-up from anywhere in the country.  

  • Stationery – Officeworks stores have free recycling collection points for pens, pencils, markers, highlighters, and liquid paper. They also accept a bunch of other items for recycling like batteries and cartridges. 

  • Mobile phones – MobileMuster is a not-for-profit recycling program for phones and their accessories. They have recently expanded the program to accept modems, routers, landline phones, and some smart devices like speakers, watches, and pens at some drop-off points. There are thousands of drop-off points across Australia. 

  • Computers and computer accessories – Australia has a free national recycling program for computers and TVs. Some recyclers even offer free pick-up services for businesses with large quantities of these products to recycle. Use Business Recycling to find a drop-off location or pick-up service.  

  • Coffee pods – Nespresso has a recycling service for aluminium coffee pods and capsules. They can be dropped off at collection points or mailed in.   Planet Ark is currently working with industry to develop a national recycling scheme for coffee pods called Podcycle, set to launch later this year.   

  • Coffee cups – While a handful of councils in Australia accept coffee cups in kerbside recycling, they generally must be recycled through specialised services. 7Eleven has a recycling point in every store.  

  • Beverage containers – some workplaces collect eligible beverage containers (certain kinds of can, bottles, and cartons) that receive a 10c refund when dropped off at your local Container Deposit Scheme. You can donate the money to charity or put it towards your work Christmas party. 

3. Find some containers to put them in

Now that you’ve selected what types of products you want to collect, you’ll need to get some bins to put them in. We purchased our containers from a storage container store, but cardboard boxes also work just fine.   

4. Put up posters to help your colleagues recycle correctly

Ensure the collection bins are clearly labelled to make sure your colleagues put the right product in the right bin. We have created free recycling posters for common items (click the link and scroll down to the bottom of the page). 

5. Encourage your colleagues to get involved  

It’s time to tell your colleagues about all the effort you’ve put in to make recycling easier for them! You can notify them in a staff meeting or by sending out an email (we’ve created email templates you can use as a guide). If you’re looking for tips on the best ways to communicate to your colleagues using behaviour change science, we’ve compiled some easy techniques

You may like to find some willing participants to help you drop off all of the recycling you collect. In the Planet Ark office, we generally find the bins only need emptying a couple of times a year. A roster system will help to make the workload equitable. 

6. Keep track of your results

Try to keep track of how much recycling is taking place through the station once it’s set up. Not only does this show the impact of people’s efforts, but the data can also be used to encourage further action among employees. Behavioural science shows that seeing the positive impact of one’s efforts is an important motivational factor to continue engaging in them, so let people in the workplace know how well they have done! You can also incentivise positive behaviours by setting monthly targets and rewarding staff members when they are eclipsed. 

Once you have your recycling station set up, let us know! We love to see workplaces implement systems to reduce waste. Email a picture of your recycling efforts to recycling@planetark.org 

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Rachael Ridley

Rachael manages the Business Recycling and Recycling Near You websites. 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.

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