Think, Smart, Recycle: 5 Smart Recycling Tasks to Start Today

Ready to take your recycling to the next level? Having an intelligently organized recycling station can make a big difference in terms of efficiency and use.

It may seem like common sense, but if your recycling setup is not consistent or lacks user-friendly features, it could end up being more of waste of money and space than a viable way to actually help the environment. Here are some tips for implementing a recycling program that will be beneficial to you, everyone who uses it, and the environment as a whole.

1. Determine volume

In order to have a recycling program that makes sense in your home or office space, you should first assess how much waste is created on a weekly basis, so you can estimate your output and have bins of an appropriate size ready to go. Whether working on your own or with the help of a custodial team, you can conduct a waste evaluation by collecting all the recyclable material produced over a three-day period and then weighing it to determine the anticipated volume of recyclable material produced on any given week. You need to make sure that your bins are an adequate size, otherwise recyclable material will end up being thrown away.

2. Identify what to collect and how to separate it

Make sure you understand the local regulations surrounding recycling, in addition to knowing the requirements of your specific waste hauler. If material is not sorted properly, it cannot be effectively recycled. Understanding the regulations can actually even save you money. For example, in some parts of Canada and the US, you can return bottles and other beverage containers and receive a small percentage of cash back. If you’re dealing with large volumes, this can add up quickly, and you’ll be able to use the money earned to expand your recycling program or even invest in other sustainability initiatives.

3. Clearly mark each bin

This may seem obvious, but the point cannot be overemphasized. You wouldn’t imagine how often recycling bins end up contaminated because someone walked up to the recycling station and was unsure where to place the item. Color coding without words and pictures is not enough. There should be a clearly printed label, ideally accompanied by images of what goes where. Don’t worry, you’re not insulting the intelligence of the user, you’re just making sure things end up where they belong.

4. Think about traffic flow

If your recycling station is going to be used effectively, you need to make sure you put some time into thinking about optimal bin placement. If the bins are not seen or are not convenient to access, people are not going to use them. Evaluate the traffic flow in your home or office and identify the key areas for waste generation. Place the recycling station here and make sure that it is in a place people will be passing by anyway on their way in or out of a room or hallway.

5. Get the right bins

Of course, the bins themselves are also important to ensure good recycling and a wise investment. Depending on how you’re planning to use your station, maybe you want to think about getting bins that are capable of growing with your program. This would mean choosing bins that allow you to change the recycling labels and the volume of streams you’re collecting. In addition, make sure you have bins that are appropriate for the environment they will be placed in. Especially if you’re setting up a recycling station outside, ensure you’ve chose a product that can stand up to elements and will be a durable recycling solution in the future.

Ronald Ryan

I'm a self-proclaimed science geek and all-around nerd. Useless fun trivia seems to be my forte. If you ever need to hear a good dad joke, I'm your guy!

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