Get a Grip on Your Garbage with these Top 5 Trash Tips

People might be surprised to know that despite a 20+ year run on blue boxes and recycling programs in the Lower Mainland, statistics tell us that businesses and the commercial sector are still only diverting less than 50% of their waste.

This, despite the fact that materials such as cardboard, paper, glass, metal, plastics, electronics, light bulbs, batteries and small appliances are all banned from the landfill.

Clearly, there is room for improvement, and with Metro’s plan to add food scraps to that list of landfill bans in 2015, some businesses are already introducing composting programs to get a head start.

Consider these top 5 trash tips to tackle and reduce your waste at work:

  • WHAT will you recycle?
    • Identify your waste streams to target low hanging fruit and highest volumes recyclables (i.e. paper, containers, cardboard)
    • Tailor a program prioritizing those materials and introduce new categories (i.e. food scraps, batteries, Styrofoam, electronics) in stages
  • WHERE will you recycle?
    • Space restrictions are a real challenge at work. Find the high traffic, material flow areas and ensure recycling receptacles are convenient and accessible to capture the highest volume of materials close to where they are generated.
    • It should always be closer and easier to recycle than tossing into the garbage!
  • HOW  will you maximize your recycling efforts?
    • Staff engagement and education are key
    • Involve your staff.  Make sure your staff are on board and understand the program –their participation will either make or break your success
    • Your recycling company should be prepared to provide staff training, signage and ongoing feedback when challenges arise
      • GO  UPSTREAM – eliminate the waste before it comes through your door
        • Procurement choices can have a huge impact in helping reduce your business’s waste and costs
        • Talk to your suppliers; wherever possible, opt for products that can be recycled or composted – any garbage coming into your office will become your garbage problem  and cost on the way out
        • FOLLOW YOUR TRASH – where is it all going?
          • Ask you service provider what’s happening to your recycling
          • With your efforts to separate and recycle properly in your office, you want to make sure these materials are going to high recovery markets and are not being mixed or downgraded into trash

Here’s to businesses getting a grip on their garbage as we head towards 2015 and a ‘zero waste’ region!


*This post was originally written as part of a piece for Business In Vancouver’s “Ask the Expert” panel. For the complete article visit: