Reducing waste is a vital part of conserving our resources and space in landfills. Taking care of reducing our waste allows us to protect our planet. Many of us already realize the benefits of reducing waste, so we recycle at home, when we eat out, etc. What about in the workplace? 

Businesses may not put a sense of urgency on reducing waste because they feel it is inconvenient to create a plan/program or not benefiting them from a financial standpoint. What they don’t realize is that reducing waste saves money by reducing the number of materials that need to be collected, transported, and processed. Not only does reducing waste saves money for the company, but it also demonstrates industry leadership and contributes to corporate social responsibility. Reduced greenhouse gas emissions and hazards to human health are a direct result of reducing our waste streams in the workplace. Companies can reduce waste, save money, and help the environment with these simple methods:


Reduce paper waste in the office

The amount of paper used every day is a significant contributor to waste in the workplace, copy paper being the most common type of office waste paper. The average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper per year, with 45% of paper printed in offices being thrown away before the end of the day. Reducing paper usage can reduce a lot of the waste that occurs in the workplace. Here are some ways you can reduce paper waste in the workplace:

  • Reuse paper for internal use—meetings, agendas, reminders
  • Make double-sided copies when possible
  • Use narrow-ruled notebooks
  • Keep mailing lists up-to-date
  • Keep a recycling bin close (attach one to every trashcan)
  • Use e-mail to share documents and ideas
  • Two-way or send-and-return envelopes
  • Go paperless with electronic bills and statements
  • Avoid printing e-mails and webpages, instead, keep them saved on your hard-drive or bookmarked for easy access when needed
  • Use smaller font to take up less room on paper, reducing the pages for a print-out
  • Use Google Docs to collaborate on projects instead of printing stuff off
  • Create electronic agendas that everyone can pull up on their computer
  • Proof documents before printing to avoid creating misprints/reprints

Breakroom & Bathroom

reducing bathroom waste

The breakroom is where most employees go to enjoy their break, and even if they don’t stay there, it’s where trash and scraps end up after. From disposable coffee cups to paper plates, to wasted food, to plastic water bottles piling up, breakrooms have a lot of potential for waste in the workplace. Bathrooms offer a wasteful space too, if not used properly. Some ways to reduce waste in the breakroom and bathrooms are:

  • Eliminate water bottles (instead use filters and glasses/reusable cups/reusable water bottles)
  • Buy in bulk
  • Reduce toilet water consumption (install low-flow toilets or a half flush option)
  • Install low-flow aerators
  • Use cloth towels, tablecloths, and napkins
  • Replace paper plates, plastic silverware and disposable cups with reusable dishes, flatware, and silverware
  • Replace disposable coffee cups with company mugs
  • Use air dryers and small cloth towels instead of paper towels
  • Give unused food to food banks (give scraps to local farmers for animals)
  • Bulk dispensers for condiments
  • Have separate containers for trash, recycling and food waste (if your company does this)
  • Reuse trash can liners when possible

Office Equipment & Supplies

reusable items can cut down on waste

Office Equipment can be expensive, and also damaging to the environment depending on the things you choose to use. Saving energy and going green in all aspects of the office is essential to ensure your office is doing everything it can to help reduce waste in the workplace. Along with office equipment, you should be mindful of the types of supplies you are providing to employees. Some ways to reduce wasteful office supplies and equipment are: 

  • Stock up on reusable pens
  • Update the supply closet and only order what is necessary
  • Buy remanufactured ink and toner cartridges
  • Use LED lamps and lighting
  • Reclaim reusable parts from old office equipment
  • Implement motion sensor lights
  • Use Recycled sticky notes and recycled/FSC® paper
  • Buy remanufactured office equipment
  • Utilize rechargeable batteries
  • Use fluorescent lights instead of incandescent bulbs
  • Consider a Smart HVAC system
  • Donate, give away or sell old furniture/office equipment instead of trashing it


use less packaging to reduce waste

While packaging generates tons of waste, it also negatively impacts the environment by draining natural resources, increasing greenhouse gas emissions, harming wildlife, and polluting our planet. Reducing the amount of packaging generates less waste in landfills, less pollution, and fewer carbon emissions during the manufacturing process and transportation process. Packaging makes up about one-third of municipal solid waste in the U.S.—which is a lot. Eco-friendly packaging in the workplace is gaining momentum because it is helping our planet, while also reducing the costs involved with packaging design. Here are some eco-friendly ways your company can reduce packaging waste in the workplace:

  • Eliminate layers of packaging when unnecessary
  • Order in bulk to reduce the number of packages
  • Use biodegradable packaging
  • Invest in an industrial shredder
  • Reuse wooden pallets
  • Reuse packing supplies
  • Encourage employees to carry a reusable bag, water bottle, coffee cup, straw, and utensils
  • Buy loose products, such as fruits and veggies, for the breakroom instead of pre-packaged
  • Use recyclable packaging

Reducing waste in the workplace isn’t something that people always consider. You go to work, do your job, and anything you can to get through the day, and then you go home. If you stop and think about the effect of some of your habits or daily actions, you can start to make a change for the better. We can’t make a difference to help our planet if everyone isn’t on board. Do your research and follow these steps to begin reducing waste in the workplace.

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