Start from the Very Beginning…
Taking the first step in eliminating wastefulness in the workplace starts long before you get to the recycling bin. Reduction means cutting down the amount of products you purchase or waste that you create in your daily business. Early prevention can mean a great deal less work and cost than dealing with your waste later in the game.
It may seem more convenient to rely on disposable items to run your business, but using products that you can use again can save you time and energy. A little extra initial cost can pay large dividends over the long haul.
Remember, even if you do not have the ability to reuse an item or material that does not mean that it is useless. Businesses have found viable markets for their used supplies, or discovered charitable options for goods that they no longer need.
Evaluate your purchasing and production. What items create the biggest source of waste in your workplace? You might be surprised at the impact you can have by switching to reusable transportation containers or by purchasing goods in bulk.
The SVSWA can help you learn about how to reduce and reuse your waste, contact us for a customized waste assessment to learn new ideas about preventing waste. Until then, check out our general tips to reduce and reuse.
Office Reuse, Recycling and Disposal
Paper, Cardboard and Containers
All garbage haulers in the Salinas Valley provide recycling collection of mixed paper, cardboard, bottles, cans and plastic containers for free or at least less than trash collection would cost you. Mixed paper includes just about any kind of paper a typical office generates, except food-soiled paper. Offices that have large amounts of confidential documents may want to consider contracting with a shredding service. Check the Yellow Pages under “Business Record Destruction” for a list of certified companies in the area who pick up, shred and recycle office paper. If your office shreds sensitive documents in-house, this material can still be recycled! Put the shreds in a large paper bag and staple it closed before placing it in the recycling bin. Call your hauler today and get set up!
Spent printer and fax machine cartridges don’t have to go to waste. Instead they can be remanufactured into new cartridges. Most cartridge vendors offer take-back programs, providing pre-paid shipping labels for the used cartridges or picking them up with your next delivery. All of the large office supply chains, like Office Depot, Office Max and Staples, also offer free drop-off in their stores.
Drowning in a glut of STYROFOAM™ peanuts? If you have more than you can use for your own shipping needs, enter your zip code at www.earth911.com to find nearby stores that are happy to take them off your hands. Often they will also accept other clean plastic packaging materials like bubble wrap for reuse.
They look and almost feel like paper but are actually made from plastic. Tyvek® envelopes are great for shipping because they don’t tear, but they can cause a big problem for recycling if they get mixed in with your paper. Luckily the manufacturer DuPont has set up a special recycling program for these envelopes. Collect them at your office, then send them to: Tyvek® Recycle, Attn: Shirley Cimburke, 2400 Elliham Ave #A, Richmond, VA 23237. For large quantities call 1-800-222-5676.
Compact Disks (CDs)
To avoid piling up old CDs, try using the rewritable kind (labeled “RW”), and simply overwrite data that becomes obsolete. Regular CDs can’t be reused, but at least you can recycle them. GreenDisk (Tel. 800-305-3475) will accept small quantities for free and offers reasonable rates for larger amounts. A positive side effect of CD recycling with a reliable vendor: confidential data is destroyed.
In spite of the growing popularity of PowerPoint presentations, Americans still discard about 15 million pounds of transparency film used for overhead projectors. 3M, the maker of post-it notes, has developed a recycling process and accepts used transparencies of any brand. Send them to 3M Recycle Program c/o Gemark, 99 Stevens Lane, Exeter, PA 18643. For more information, call 3M at 800-328-1371.
Used and Surplus Office Supplies
Stuck with too many used binders? Extra folders, labels, pens, cardboard tubes, even surplus promotional items? San Jose-based non-profit RAFT (Reuse Area For Teachers) is happy to take clean materials to redistribute them to teachers in the region. They’ll even come to you to pick up larger quantities. Call them at 408-451-1420 or visit their website at www.raft.net and click on “Material Donors”.
Obsolete Office Furniture
Does your office have “bigger ticket” items to get rid of, like desks, chairs and file cabinets? If so, they don’t have to turn into a headache or mean a trip to the dump. The United Way of Monterey County matches donors of functional office furniture with partnering non-profit agencies throughout the county. Call Tina Inquist at 424-7644 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Another option is ACQ Office in San Leandro, a used office furniture broker. Call them at 510- 351-7511 or visit www.acqoffice.com. Finally, you can list your items for free on the state’s CalMAX website and catalogue. Go to www.calrecycle.ca.gov for more information. (Take note: these are all great resources when you’re in the market to buy used office furniture as well!)
Electronics, Fluorescent Lights and Batteries
These items contain heavy metals and other toxic components and are not allowed in the garbage. The good news is that all of these materials are collected for recycling in the Salinas Valley. Business equipment such as computers, monitors and screens, photo copiers, fax machines and phones can be dropped off at an SVSWA Facility. Fluorescent bulbs and tubes, batteries, and cell phones are accepted for a fee. Call the SVSWA at 424-5520 to make an appointment.