Establish a recycling program
Most businesses generate "waste" products that should be recycled, if only to prevent harmful chemicals entering our food chain.
We have concentrated, extracted and combined raw natural elements into new and unique elements such as plastics, aluminium, mercury and acids. Recently we have realised that to use these resources efficiently and avoid them spoiling the environment, we need to create closed loops that allow us to move these technical materials from one use to another in the same way nature cycles nutrients, water, or energy throughout its ecosystems. In this manner we need to see one business's technical waste as the feedstock for another's business's technical process and product.
Recycling plastics, paper, metal, and glass are all steps in this direction. The end point is that all man-made products and materials are able to be recycled and reused.
How to do it now!
Establish a recycling program at work.
If your workplace doesn't have a recycling program in place follow these steps to create one:
Talk to the owner.
Get top level buy in to implement a recycling program at your work.
Do some research on establishing a successful recycling program.
There are several sites that offer assistance, guides and support for establishing a recycling program. Here are some to get you thinking:
- Recycle Near You (NSW) - Provides a great PDF guide to setting up and running a paper recycling program.
- Queensland Waste Management (QLD).
- Waste Management (WA),
- Planet Ark 'Recycling near you' - Provides a great directory of recycling services and have a great guide for tenants "Waste Reduction in Office Buildings".
- The Green Office Guide is a guide to help you buy and use environmentally friendly office equipment.
- The Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection has several factsheets that are useful to recycling waste. Collection of Waste fact sheets
Recycle all that you can.
Most councils (check with your local council for the exact products recycled) offer kerbside recycle bins in which to place the following:
- cardboard, milk and juice cartons.
- cardboard boxes, newspapers and magazines.
- glass bottles and jars.
- aluminium cans, foil trays and steel cans.
- plastic milk, juice, soft drink and detergent bottles.
- telephone books, work and school papers, letters, envelopes and advertising material.
Recycle or refill your toner and ink cartridges.
Recycling or refilling these items is as simple as finding a local 'remanufacturer' and asking them to provide collection bins and collection services to your workplace.
Collect and recycle batteries.
Get a battery recycling box for your office. For details about battery recyclers
- Contact your local council about a collection service.
- Refer to the Yellow Pages under the heading "batteries".
- Mobile phone batteries can be returned to mobile phone outlets.
Recycle your mobile phones.
For every mobile phone in use, there are two more sitting unused in a draw somewhere! Mobile phones contain nickel, cobalt, cadmium, gold, silver and plastics which can be recycled and reused. Most mobile phone retailers have recycling boxes. Alternatively, call MobileMuster for a full list of drop-off locations or to organise a recycling box for your workplace.
Recycle compact fluorescent globes.
The new efficient light globes are great, however they contain small amounts of mercury and need to be disposed of in a way that prevents this mercury entering nature, our soil and food.
The Australian Government in partnership with the lighting industry has developed and launched Fluoro-cycle, a scheme aimed to increase recycling rates for mercury-containing globes.
In addition, fluorescent globe processing is carried out in Australia through recycling companies such as Chemsal and CMA Ecocycle.
Recycle your e-waste.
Electronic waste also known as “e-waste” , contains toxic and hazardous substances, which when confined to landfill, can leach into the ground water and cause contamination. E-waste is generally defined as any item with a battery or electrical cord (computers, printers, monitors, mobile phones etc.). The proliferation of information technology has led to an increasing need to recycle used or obsolete computing equipment.
E-waste can be recycled, however, before deciding to send your old computer to a recycler, consider donating it to a community group, local charity, school or family member. If you can't usefully pass it on, these organisations may be able to help:
- Recycling Near You (National) - Planet Ark list of recycling locations for e-waste
- ewaste (National) - home or office pick up of your unwanted computers.
- Computerbank (Melbourne) - offers cheap refurbished computers to concession card holders.
- Green Collect (Melbourne) – picks up a wide range of items from offices and diverts them from landfill so they can be reused, remade or recycled.
Use specialist recyclers of technical waste where available.
Most states have directories of specialist recyclers that will take everything from your old paint and oil to your printer cartridges.
- National - Oil recycling locations
Recycle organic waste.
Organic office kitchen waste can be fed to an onsite worm farm or put in a compost bin. See our Recycle organic waste action.
Why is this action important?
In order to reduce the strain our ongoing consumption is putting on the environment, we need to use less and use it many times (ideally, perpetually). Creating closed loops by recycling all that we can moves us in this direction.
In 2002-03, Australia generated approximately 32.4 million tonnes of solid waste, or about 1.7 tonnes per capita. Approximately 60 per cent of this waste is buried in landfill. This represents a huge ongoing loss of invested energy, extracted resources and natural services that could otherwise be recycled back into other man-made products and materials.
Recycling of toxic chemicals, radioactive materials and other non-biodegradable materials is the alternative to attempting to store them in landfill facilities. Inadequate disposal of these materials has allowed many man-made toxins to enter the oceans and contaminate seafood. Mercury turns into its organic form, methylmercury, and accumulates in the tissue of tuna, swordfish and shark (large, old fish at the top of the food chain). Chemicals such as DDT and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl), dioxin, toxaphene, and dieldrin can accumulate in fish (especially farm-fed fish) and are all suspected to cause cancer in humans.