02 Jul, 2024
Written By: Josh Morris

Waste and Recycling Guide for Offices

 Illustration of various offices with a BUSY BINS waste and recycling guide. Shows a mix of trash, recycling bins, and assorted waste items like furniture, boxes, and garbage bags and a skip outside the buildings.

The 9-5 grind, the concrete jungle...the modern office workplace. 

With helicopter thinking, smile and dial, beautifully intelligent & all the other office lingo flying around, office recycling talk is going to be the last thing on people's lips.

However, just like a parent having the talk with their children....we need to talk office recycling.  

From stacks of paper that seem to multiply overnight, to water bottles becoming a paperweight on peoples' desks...we've all been there.

Offices produce large amounts of different types of waste and rubbish, and working out the best way to dispose of this can be difficult...but don't worry, we've cracked the code on recycling in the workplace.

So, grab your reusable mug, pick up your bamboo pens and let's get into our guide to office recycling!

Understanding Office Waste

Types of Office Waste Generated

General Waste: Everyday waste generated from the emptying of indoor bins. 

Recyclable Waste: Paper, cardboard, plastic, aluminium cans and other recyclable materials.

Organic Waste: Kitchen waste and food scraps.

Electrical and Electronic Waste (WEEE): Discarded electronic devices and equipment.

Confidential Waste: Any form of waste that is confidential such as payroll & other forms with personal data on. 

Impact of not recycling office waste

Office waste management doesn't just keep your office looking prim and proper, there are many benefits to it & the benefits always outweigh the negatives. 

Not recycling office waste can have a significant impact on the environment, your community and the world.

Here's how:

Environmental Impact

Landfill Overflow: If all of us don't recycle on a personal level and most of all a professional level, we are creating more and more waste that will be diverted to landfills. Landfills release methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and can contaminate soil and water.

Pollution: Improper disposal of office waste can result in pollution of air, soil and harms wildlife. Just think of all that plastic packaging and cardboard material that could end up in seas or drains, if it isn't recycled and disposed of in the correct manner. 

Economic Impact

Waste Costs: By getting on top of your recycling waste you are not only creating a more vibrant and pollution free environment, but, you are saving some pennies along the way. By reducing your waste or reusing old items, you are slowing down the amount of waste collections you need which in turn saves you some important cash!

Revenue Lost: It isn't just money from the extra collections you need that can hurt you. Oh no...many recyclable materials have economic value when properly recycled. Failing to recycle office waste means missed opportunities for you to generate revenue through the sale of recyclable materials.

Health & Safety Concerns

Hazardous Materials: Hazardous materials may not be a the most common in offices, but some electronic devices and batteries can contain lead and other hazardous materials. We know it is a bit of a stretch, but if electronic office waste disposal isn't carried out correctly it could cause a risk to your employees. 

Setting Up an Office Recycling Program

Setting up a successful recycling program can help to make your office more environmentally friendly. However, it isn't just a case of placing a few more bins around and hoping for the best.

You will need to assess how much waste your producing as well as getting your employees on board with the program, not an easy feat, but by following our steps below, it can be simple. 

Before you go creating a full recycling program, you need to assess your office waste and recycling needs. 

Here are some top tips for recycling:

Conduct a Waste Audit: Carrying out a waste audit is a great way to gain more understanding of the waste that you are creating, It gives you a chance to identify any areas of improvements, the types and amount of waste & points you in the right direction in regards to developing a recycling program to reduce your waste. 

You can see our steps to creating a waste audit in the next section. 

Monitor Audit Results: Once you have completed your audit, you will know exactly what you produce and how much each day. Now it is time to choose what bins and where. 

Choosing the Right Bin & Location: Look at the results of your waste audit to select the best possible places to put your bins. This could include: More food bins in the kitchen,  or more recycling waste collection stations in areas of high traffic. 

Engaging Employees: Offer incentives to your employees for their recycling efforts. This could include contests between departments where the winners get a half day. Ensure you celebrate all recycling achievements. 

Create eye-catching recycling stations: Select clever slogans and funky signs to entice your employees to recycle more. 

Add Basketball Hoops over each  recycling bin, and at the end of every day, you and your team could take turns to see who can throw the most in the bins, winner takes a prize.

Partner with the right company: Select a company that understands your business and waste needs. Partner with a waste collection service that will work alongside your recycling practices and also help you figure out the most efficient collection frequency and size bins.

According to a study, each ton of paper recycled can save approximately 17 trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 3 cubic yards of landfill space, and 4,000 kWh of energy.

Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Waste Audit

Form a Team: Recruit help from your staff to sort the rubbish for your audit.

Choose a Sample:

  • Select a normal day for the audit. This will be to represent a typical waste pattern.
  • Ensure you have an appropriate sample size by performing the audit over a few days or weeks.

Collection of Waste:

  • Throughout the audit day, collect all waste generated in your office. This includes both trash and recyclables.
  • Label each container or bag with the date and location in the office of where it was collected.

Sort the Waste: 

  • Set up sorting tables in a well-ventilated area. Ensure you have gloves and a safe space to sort through the rubbish.
  • Begin the sorting process by opening each bag or container and separating the materials into categories. Common categories include paper, cardboard, plastics, glass, metal, organic waste, and non-recyclable waste.
  • Record the weight or volume of each category as you sort. You can use scales or simply put them in a normal bin to assess the amount of waste i.e. Half Bin, Quarter Bin, Full Bin.

Once your waste has been sorted, weighed & noted down, you can move onto the results and see what can be improved. 

Recycling Guidelines for Common Office Materials

Paper and Cardboard

Paper: All kinds of paper can be recycled. From office paper, magazines, newspapers & cardboard boxes. Always ensure that the paper is dry and clean before chucking away. 

Cardboard: Use all your strength to get those cardboard boxes flattened, which helps clear and make space when you dispose of waste in your bin. 


Check the recycling codes: Plastics are labelled with a resin identification code ranging from #1 to #7, indicating the type of plastic. In general, plastics #1 (PET) and #2 (HDPE) are widely recyclable. Examples include plastic bottles, containers, and lids.

Clean and empty: Before you throw any plastic away into your plastic recycling waste bin, always remember to clean and empty the plastics of any contaminants. 


E-waste recycling: Computers, monitors, printers, and mobile phones should be recycled through designated e-waste recycling centres. Many electronics retailers offer take-back programs for recycling your old devices.

Data security: Ensure that any data secure files or folders that have important information in, are fully secured or cleared before you dispose of them with your other waste electrical and electronic equipment. 


Food waste: Consider composting food scraps and organic waste if your office has a big enough green space. Composting reduces methane emissions from landfills and produces nutrient-rich soil.

Green bins: Scatter those green bins around to create an effective waste solution. 

Glass and Metals

Glass: Glass bottles and jars are recyclable. Rinse them out and remove any caps or lids before recycling. Broken glass should be carefully disposed of in a separate container to prevent injury.

Metals: Aluminium cans and steel/tin cans are recyclable. Rinse them out and remove any labels. 

Reducing Waste in the Office

Reducing waste in the office isn't just a job of chucking out more bins and informing your employees to throw every bit of paper in the bin. There are various different ways in which you and your staff members can reduce waste in the office. Some are quick to implement, whilst some may take a bit of pushing to get over the line: 

Ditch the Disposables: Throw out the single use plastic cups, cutlery and plates. Why not upgrade to eco-friendly alternatives like Bamboo tableware or compostable cups for coffee. You could save the planet whilst sipping your morning drink like a true sustainable superstar with sustainable materials. Why not try a month with no plastic and reward those who stick to it. 

Rip up the paper: Embrace the paperless revolution and look to digitalise your documents. Look to invest in cloud based storage or use e-signatures to minimise paper waste and truly go paperless in your business. Alternatively, you could also opt for recycled paper products, if you didn't want to take the step to going fully digital. 

Say bye to Bottled Water: Banish plastic water bottles from your office, opting instead for water coolers or filtered tap water. Encourage employees to bring their own reusable bottles. Just be prepared for a sharp increase in toilet breaks!

Electronics Recycle Program: Set up a e-recycling station, so that no old equipment is chucked away to landfill. Look at re-using old computers/laptops. You could use old computer screens to display office information. 

Alternatively, donate to a local charity or use a dedicated WEEE recycling centre. 

Implementing Sustainable Practices

Implementing sustainable practices sounds like a lot of work and a lot of time to set up, which can be hard to come by when running a business, however implementing these, don't have to be hard or time consuming, it  can be as easy as switching off the lights at night, or makings sure to turn your computers off before leaving. 

Here are some ways of implementing sustainable practices into your company: 

Light up your Office: Get those old office guzzling light bulbs swapped out for more energy efficient LED lights. Not only will you reduce your Electricity bill, but you will also create a work environment that is as bright and inviting as a summer day on the beach, without the heat and fun times of course!

Power down like a pro: Unplug those energy sappers, and we aren't talking about your Boss. We are talking about those sneaky chargers, computer monitors, and other devices that suck power even when they are not in use. Unplugging them not only saves energy but also encourages employees to do the same. 

It isn't just your equipment that can improve their sustainable performance, it is crucial to get your employees on board with your new sustainability drive. Here are some ways of getting them involved: 

Offer Commuting Incentives: Encourage greener commuting options for your colleagues. Start a bike sharing program, install showers so people can wash once they arrive at work, or organise a car pooling initiative. Not only will this reduce carbon emission, but you might also discover the joys of morning sing-alongs on the road. You could ever offer monthly green challenges to your employees for prizes. 

Sustainability Heroes: Sustainability team unite! Designate a team of eco-warriors who will lead the charge, organising events, sharing tips, and inspiring your fellow co-workers to embrace more green habits. Don't forget to award them with a cape. 

Educate your staff: Host regular workshops and seminars on sustainable practices to educate and engage your staff. You could also try to educate staff through informational lunch-and-learn and also educate staff through informational newsletters/emails to show how the impact on the environment and how to make a more eco-friendly office environment, 

Remember, small changes can make a big difference, so grab that green cape and start your journey towards a greener, brighter and more sustainable workplace. Combining competition and going green can help keep the whole office interested.

Overcoming Challenges in Office Recycling

Common Obstacles

Employee Lack of Awareness: If your employees don't understand and realise the importance of office recycling, they won't get involved. By showing your staff members how they can take part in workplace recycling and the importance of this, you can get them invested and interested.

Resistance to change: Some people don't like change and can be stuck in their ways. Employees may resist adopting new recycling habits due to inconvenience or lack of motivation. It is up to you to show them the ways and motivate them to change together. 


Training: Create fun and interactive training programs, so that employees get educated on the benefits of recycling & proper sorting techniques. Make team games to keep it competitive but fun!

Incentives: Offer incentives such as rewards for departments or individuals who consistently demonstrate outstanding recycling efforts. Positive reinforcement can motivate employees to participate more.

Improved recycling: Hone in your recycling skills and organise your waste. Select specific areas where office recycling bins are placed to encourage employees to dispose of their waste. Conduct waste audits and really think on how you can reduce your recycling rate. 

Case Studies

IKEA's: IKEA prides itself on their sustainability, especially when it comes to their offices and stores. They have put together a recycled strategy that really pays dividends! With such schemes as take back services for used furniture and more eco-friendly packaging materials, IKEA really try and ensure they are as sustainable as possible. 

Google's Zero Waste: Google's offices in Dublin achieved a staggering 99% diversion rate from stopping their waste from going to landfill. To hit those numbers are seriously impressive. They completed this by setting up a composting program, donating to charities, but most of all, by championing their staff members to get involved and on board. Without the 100's of google employees taking part and striving for this, this wouldn't have happened!

Maintaining Employee Engagement

Employee Input: Ask your employees to suggest ideas on how to improve your office recycling. Hosting brainstorming sessions or forming a green team can foster a sense of ownership and commitment.

Regular Communication: Communicate will staff members of all levels, so that everyone stays informed. Highlight success stories and share progress reports through bulletin boards and company wide emails. 

Recognition: Always recognise and celebrate your employees efforts, and your own. You can give yourself a pat on the back sometimes. Consider organising events or competitions to further engage employees and foster a sense of togetherness.

Resources and Tools for Offices

Checklists and posters for office recycling

Paper Recycling for the office:  Put together a handy poster to inform your staff of the benefits of paper recycling as well as what paper should be thrown away and into which bin. 

Recycling Do's and Don'ts: Create an infographic on recycling do's and don'ts, letting all your employees know what they can and can't chuck away to reduce any waste disposal mix-ups for food waste and other forms of waste. 

Apps and software for waste management and recycling tracking

Bin-novation:  Binnovation offers waste management software designed to streamline waste collection, optimise routes, and track recycling efforts. 

Smart Waste: Smart Waste is another digital platform that offers waste management and recycling solutions for businesses. This includes waste tracking, reporting, and more. 

Local recycling resources and facilities

https://www.recyclenow.com/ - Recycle Now is a website that has been specifically created to help improve waste in the UK. This was made by WRAP which is the Waste and Resources Action Programme. 

https://recyclecoach.com/companies/recycle-coach-at-work/This website was designed to help individuals, workplaces and communities improve recycling habits. Companies can sign up via the link, and receive digital tools to help, as well as tips for reducing waste. They also host Lunch N Learn events.


Recycling in your office may not seem important but slacking on office waste recycling is no joke! 

Not having a waste management plan, more sustainable approach to recycling and a dedicated way to deal with your office waste stream can impact more then just your wallets...the environment needs you!

By diving into recycling headfirst and embracing eco-friendly waste management, businesses can turn the tide, one recycled paper cup at a time. 

So, reach for those bamboo pens and get those plans together...as this is where real change can happen. We know it's cliché but it is true!!

Finding the Correct Waste Management Provider 

Selecting the correct provider to dispose of your office waste is of high importance for your business.

By choosing the right waste management partner that fits with your office needs, you are ensuring that your business will be running as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

At Busy Bins, we understand the importance of a personalised solution that works alongside you and your business.

By ensuring timely and efficient waste removal services, you can focus on the things that really make an impact on your business, rather then spending hours on the phone to a waste management company, wondering why your collection is 2 days late. 

No matter what waste you produce, we have got the commercial waste management service for you.

Here are a few reasons how you could really benefit by using us for your recycling and waste management:

  • Fully Accredited & Licensed Waste Carriers.
  • 12 months contracts / No Auto-Renewal
  • Duty of Care/Waste Transfer Note provided.
  • Dispose of waste correctly! No Landfill! All your rubbish is sent to an Waste to Energy facility to ensure your office block is as environmentally friendly as ever.
  • Speedy, reliable service - Turn up when we say we are going too!
  • Junk Removal & Skip Hire Service - Ideal for any office clear out or renovations on the way. 
  • If you wish to see any of our legal documentation then please email binfo@busybins.co.uk and we will be happy to provide copies of this. Our waste carriers licence number is CB/DU222271 for any online checks you wish to carry out.

If you wanted to speak to a waste expert about your waste needs or want to know more about the service that we can offer to you, please give us a call on 0161 766 3330 and we would be more then happy to help!

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