What happens if you use a recycling bin as a normal bin?

Does your organisation already use recycling bins to separate your waste? If so, that’s great, but how thoroughly do you check what’s going in them?

After all, in the lunchtime rush or the end of day rush to the door it’s easy for people just to bung everything in the same bin. But, be warned, doing that can have consequences for the environment and other small businesses like yours.

It only takes a second

You may have a bin for paper and cardboard and a separate one for food waste and another for glass. Your employees might think nothing of throwing a bit of food into the paper and card bin – maybe the remains of some pasta and tomato sauce they’ve just finished. However, getting some of that pasta sauce on the paper will stop it being recycled, which will mean the paper has to go to landfill.

Waste of energy – For starters, for new paper to be made, energy is used to get the raw materials needed to make it. After that, if you consider that 70% less energy is needed to recycle paper compared with making it from raw materials, that extra second to put it in the right bin can make a huge difference.

Adds to landfill – On top of that, landfill sites give off harmful greenhouse gases, so the more non-recyclable rubbish that goes to landfill, the more gasses will be emitted, adding to global warming.

Costs small businesses like yours – Lastly, consider the companies that sort your recycling. Often they are small, local service providers, perhaps similar in size and turnover to your organisation. Like any business they use manpower and energy to do their job.

So, if your employees put things in the wrong bin, they are costing another small business time and money in wages as well as adding to their energy bills. Giving your recycling service extra work will also increase their energy consumption, which adds to the organisation’s CO2 emissions.

This cycle almost defeats the point of going the extra mile with your recycling.


Why not appoint an office green team to get the message across to your employees? The designated group can make sure the recycling bins are labelled clearly and explain what happens if people don’t follow the instructions. They could make posters and hold company-wide awareness sessions.

After all, it only takes a second to use the right bin.

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