Promote Your Existing Systems

Recycling sign at work © Zo Zhou

Recycling sign at work

If your workplace already has recycling systems in place, and you've checked that everything is working properly, then actively promote the systems to staff, and if relevant, customers. Promoting the recycling system, whether it's paper and cardboard, glass, plastic and metal containers or printer cartridges, is a great way to encourage staff to become involved with it.

Success is a great motivator. Gather together whatever data you have regarding the program, whether that be the number of bins collected over 12 months, the weight of paper sent for recycling, the number of cartridges recycled and so on. Communicate these successes to staff either with a staff meeting, through e-mails or in the annual report. If you can quantify, by weight, the amount of material sent for recycling you'll also be able to assess the carbon dioxide and water savings you've achieved. You can do this at the NSW Environment Protection Authority Benefits of Recycling Calculator.


  • Signage (including notes, posters, and recycling bin stickers) is a great way to remind people about the existence of a recycling system as well as their responsibilities. For a sign to be effective it should be located as close as possible to the place where the recycling happens. For example, in the kitchens for food and drink containers and at the copier for paper.
  • Clear, direct and easy to understand signs are more likely to be effective.
  • Wherever possible positive messages work better than negative messages. For example, 'Please place recycling in the blue bin' is better than 'Don't throw recycling in the garbage bin'.
  • Other forms of reminders can also be effective. For example, add a footnote to the bottom of e-mails with a simple message saying "Bring your printer cartridges from home and put them in the 'Cartridges 4 Planet Ark' boxes for recycling". After a few weeks these kinds of message become less noticeable so swap the message around or change the colour of the text.
  • Having someone with respect or authority in the workplace supporting the existing system is a great motivator for encouraging participation. Getting the owner, CEO or a respected staff member to talk about the system, its outcomes and everyone's roles in it will help create a culture in the workplace where recycling becomes the expected norm.

The BusinessRecycling website makes it easier to recycle at work with a comprehensive list of recyclers, a checklist to help choose the right recycler, free signagecase studies, information and more.