Workplace Waste Diversion Plans: simply smart business

waste diversion plan

Fact: as much as 90% of office waste could be recycled or composted.

Implementing a workplace waste diversion plan isn’t just a feel-good environmental thing. It’s also a smart business move that can reduce costs and foster team spirit.

Paper, paper, read all about it!

Whatever happened to the paperless office that was predicted decades ago?

Paper is by far the largest source of office waste. In fact, the average office worker produces roughly two pounds of waste paper every day — that’s about 10,000 sheets per year.

And here’s the kicker: around 30% of printed jobs aren’t even picked up at the printing machine, and almost half of all printed material ends up in the trash at the end of the day. That’s a lot of wasted paper and a lot of dead trees.

So, paper use is one policy where you can really reduce consumption – and, with it, your office supply budget and garbage disposal costs.

Do you really need to print out that email or memo? If you do, choose the double-sided printing option whenever possible.

Make sure your waste diversion plan provides for dedicated paper-recycling bins beside each printer and copier, as well as near everyone’s desks.

And don’t forget to opt for recycled paper products when you’re doing the purchasing.

Did you know? Waste paper can be recycled 5 to 7 times and be used for many other useful things like toilet paper and paper towels.

Mountains of plastic

According to Canadian watchdog organization Environmental Defence, only 11% of plastic waste is recycled each year in Canada. The other 89% is either incinerated or ends up in landfills, waterways and parks, leeching toxins into the air and water, and killing wildlife.

Instead of supplying water in single-use plastic bottles, how about installing a water cooler? Providing reusable mugs and glasses will cut down on plastic waste dramatically, and actually reduce purchasing and waste management costs.

And we probably don’t need to tell you, but Styrofoam cups are especially problematic. You should avoid using them altogether.

Low-hanging fruit

Another way to reduce waste at work is to recycle compostable materials. These include food scraps, coffee grinds, tea bags, napkins, paper towels, and even cardboard sleeves from hot drink cups. As most of your employees will already be using a green bin at home, you’ll likely get 100% compliance in your staff kitchen.

Did you know? When compostable material is processed it can be used to enrich mineral-deficient farm land and even produce power.

Many hands make right work

When everyone at work does his or her bit to reduce, reuse or recycle waste, it can bring the team together and encourage a positive attitude toward your organization, the environment and the customers you serve.


Does your organization have a waste diversion plan? If not, get in touch with us. We can help you establish and meet your sustainability goals.

At Allcare we care about clean – and creating a sustainable future.

Planning with Tomorrow in Mind: Developing a Sustainability Committee

A sustainability committee is a group within an organization whose mission is to find solutions that make it greener and more environmentally responsible — and put these ideas into motion. The committee has to work to mobilize people to make sure the best sustainable practices are implemented throughout the organization.

Once an organization is convinced that it’s in their best interests to strive to be more environmentally friendly, creating a sustainability committee is a great next step. Typically, the team will have two elements: a steering committee, which consists of management, and an action team that implements the plan.

The Sustainability Steering Committee

A steering committee is comprised of senior management as well as other key stakeholders (such as department representatives, and operations) who have the authority to make major decisions. The steering committee is responsible for maintaining project momentum, which is important especially when facing political hurdles brought on by change. They are also responsible for providing support to the action team and keeping them on track.

When building a steering committee and action team, their needs to be a coordinator who works with both teams. (In some cases, an outside individual such as a vendor, consultant, or green cleaning advocate can serve as the coordinator, but frequently these people play the role of key advisor to the coordinator.)

The primary role of the coordinator is team management and leadership.  Their specific functions include:

  1. Leadership: Coordinating the steering committee and action team.
  2. Communication: Ensuring the two groups have the information needed to make timely and informed decisions, while the management is kept aware of progress and that questions are answered quickly and accurately.
  3. Problem-Solving: Being aware of any problems that may be developing, coordinating efforts to deal with them quickly, and calling for outside assistance when required.
  4. Point of Contact: Serving as point of contact for all questions, communications, concerns, or other issues between the implementation teams, management, administration, staff and employees.
The Action Team

The action team (or green team if you prefer) includes the people who are responsible for the day-to-day activities and details involved in implementing the plan. They’re involved in everything from collecting the initial information that reviews the current situation to reviewing results and modifying procedures to achieve the desired results.

It can be difficult to choose the members of your action team. We recommend the following tips to help you come up with the best group:

  1. Include members from all aspects of your organization. This does not only include your office employees, but those who work in your plant or warehouse. Or those in the maintenance department, your contract service providers (i.e., cleaners, HVAC company, lawn maintenance, property managers, health and safety officers, waste management, pest management, etc.).
  2. Include employees who have expressed an interest. Those who are interested in improving the indoor air quality of your building and saving the environment should be highly motivated.
  3. Try to get those who are hesitant about the idea on board. These reluctant or skeptical folks could turn out to be the project’s biggest supporters.
  4. Invite customers or regular visitors to your facility to become members. Those with an outside perspective of your building bring a valuable perspective to your project.

Having the right members on your sustainability committee can make it easier to roll out sustainable practices across every segment of your organization. And having a sustainability coordinator who can work with the steering committee and the action team can help the groups work together.

Sustainability committees are capable of tremendous change within their organization and the greater environment, and creating a formal structure helps them make their biggest impact.

Get in touch

Allcare has the experience and expertise to advise your organization’s Sustainability Committee and even help facilitate its start-up if you don’t currently have one.

We advise on establishing Green Housekeeping programs as part of your organization’s sustainability efforts and assist in optimizing its institutional capacity around sustainability.