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RECYCLING 101

Unsure of how to recycle? Here’s a general guide that should apply to most offices and buildings, with some variations depending on the waste and recycling program developed for your location.

 

Paper Icon cropped copy PAPER

RECYCLE * Envelopes (including those with windows) * Magazines * Mail * Post-its * Paperboard * Newspaper * Office paper * File Folders * Color paper * Glossy Paper [Please ensure paper is dry. No need to remove paper clips and staples before recycling]

TIP: Rule of thumb – If you can rip it…you can recycle it! (Watch: 30-sec. VIDEO tip) 

REDUCE use of single-sided printing (program the printer to always print double-sided), virgin paper (buy recycled paper), and stop junk mail.

FACT: Americans throw away enough office paper each year to build a 12-foot-high-wall from LA to NY. According to the EPA, the average U.S. office worker generates two pounds of paper each day.

glassicon GLASS/METAL/PLASTIC

RECYCLE * Plastic bottles *Rigid plastics (yogurt cups, food containers) * Plastic utensils * Aluminum cans * Foil * Glass * Tetrapak cartons for milk/juice/soup. [No Plastic Bags.]

TIP: Dirty and/or contaminated recyclables are often pulled out of the recycling stream and sent to the landfill. Please take the time to rinse and sort your recyclables properly.

FACT: Last year, the average American used 167 disposable water bottles, but only recycled 38.3.

REDUCE use of single-use items like disposable cups.

cardboxIcons CARDBOARD

RECYCLE all clean cardboard boxes. Empty and flatten all clean, non-waxed cardboard boxes. Place in designated areas for removal.

REDUCE use of waxed cardboard 

REUSE packaging when possible. 

TIP: Please remove packing tape, packing materials, etc. Why flatten cardboard?  Watch this 30-second VIDEO recycling tip.

FACT: Recycling 1 ton of cardboard saves 46 gallons of oil

ewasteIcons E-WASTE

RECYCLE all items with a plug including working and non-working electronics (TVs, computers, iPhones, printers, etc.), toners. DO NOT TRASH E-waste contain hazardous materials and should NOT be disposed of as trash — they must be stored and removed separately from other wastes by a vendor licensed to handle them.

REDUCE use of short term use electronics.

REUSE/DONATE working, usable electronics

TIP:  Check your state’s e-waste rules here or here. Remember that rules may also vary based on the size and type of building or business.

FACT:  According to the EPA, about 142,000 computers and over 416,000 mobile devices are disposed of every day. Of the 3.412  million tons of e-waste generated in the U.S. in 2012, only 29.2% was recycled.

Learn more:
Fact Sheet: E-Waste and Universal Waste
How big is your e-waste secret?  

UniversalIcons  HAZARDOUS + UNIVERSAL WASTE 

RECYCLE *Rechargeable Batteries * Fluorescent bulbs * Ballasts * Oil * Grease. DO NOT TRASH. Hazardous materials must be stored and removed separately from other wastes by a vendor licensed to handle them.

TIP:  Check your state’s universal waste regulations. Remember that rules may also vary based on the size and type of building or business.

LEARN MORE:
Fact Sheet: E-Waste and Universal Waste

Organicicon ORGANICS

RECYCLE *Food scraps * Egg Shells * Coffee Grounds/Filters/Paper Tea Bags * Cut/Dried Flowers/Plants & Soil * Food-Soiled Paper Towels/Napkins * Nut Shells * Tissue * Compostable bioplastics* Untreated wood. [NOTE: Check to see what your organic recycling program accepts.  Some DO NOT accept bones, dairy, fibrous vegetables such as pineapple tops, etc.]

REDUCE use of non-compostable utensils and cut down on waste, for example, by ordering the correct amount of food.

REUSE/DONATE pre-consumer food (items that were not served)

FACT: Americas waste 3,000 pounds of food per second.

LEARN MORE:
Composting for Businesses and Organizations: A Guide
A Guide to New and Emerging Food Waste Technologies

confidential Icon CONFIDENTIAL DOCUMENTS

Documents (hard copy paper OR digital/electronic memory) containing sensitive or customer information must be processed using a confidential shredding program. DO NOT TRASH personal or customer data. 

FACT: Confidential documents, by law, need to be shredded and destroyed. Fines apply for non compliance.

TIP: Some companies that specialize in the proper disposal of confidential documents can destroy documents on site at your office. This provides an extra measure of security as sensitive documents do not have to be transported off site to be shredded.

FurnitureIcons BULK WASTE

RECYCLE * Metal * Textiles (by law, if over 10% of your waste stream is textiles) * Furniture, Pallets, and other cleanout waste.

REUSE/DONATE usable items in bulk (see below)

TIP: Many charitable organizations have needs that you can fill. You just have to make the right connection. Here are some examples:

constructionicon CONSTRUCTION WASTE

RECYCLE *Metal *Masonry * Wood * and other Building Materials. DO NOT TRASH. Construction waste must be removed by a qualified recycling vendor.

REUSE/DONATE salvaged building components

TIP:  Think of material as commodities. Here’s what you can do.

LandfillIcons GARBAGE/LANDFILL

All soiled or non-recyclable items  * Styrofoam * Bubble wrap * Non-rigid plastics * Non-compostable organic matter * Condiment packets * Straws * Single-use disposable coffee cups * Plastic film * Non-rigid plastics and Bags.

FACT: The average person generates 4.3 pounds of waste per day. Approximately 55% of 220 million tons of waste generated each year in the U.S. ends up in one of the over 3,500 landfills.

TIP: Having a recycling bin that is larger than a garbage bin may encourage more thoughtful decisions.


REMEMBER…

RECYCLING TIP Updated-Reduce Reuse Recycle

Lids 2MOST COFFEE CUPS ARE NOT RECYCLABLE:

Do One Thing – Switch To Reusable Cups

The average American office worker uses about 500 disposable cups every year.

50 billion cups in the U.S. end up in landfills every year — if placed end to end, they would go to the moon and back roughly five times.


 

 

guidesSUSTAINABILITY CHECKLISTS

Want to take charge of your sustainability efforts and get results? Here are some things you can do:


 

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Here are answers to some of the most common questions we are asked. Read our Q&A archive.


icon-leedGOOD TO KNOW

 

 


 

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