Office resource efficiency

How to recycle your office waste


Although recycling office waste such as paper is far better than sending it for disposal to landfill, you should bear in mind that recycling itself has environmental impacts and costs for transportation and energy use. You should look first to waste elimination or reduction, or reuse of materials, because this will cut your purchase and disposal costs. Only consider recycling your office waste when these other options have been considered.

Types of office waste which can be recycled

Wastes which your business may produce that can be recycled include:

  • office paper - white high grade paper
  • mixed paper - coloured paper, leaflets, envelopes, newspapers, magazines, etc
  • confidential papers
  • shredded paper
  • cardboard
  • printer cartridges
  • plastic bottles
  • food and drink cans
  • electrical equipment

How easy it is to get them recycled will depend on the services offered in your area, and how much you produce.

How to recycle more office waste

You can improve your office recycling policy by:

  • taking into consideration whether the things you buy for the office - materials, consumables, equipment, components, etc - are made from recycled materials and whether they themselves can be easily recycled
  • ensuring that purchases are packed (where packaging is necessary) in recycled or recyclable materials
  • benchmarking current recycling activities and looking at ways to do it better
  • establishing an action plan to improve recycling
  • monitoring performance
  • making recycling bins at least as accessible as bins for waste going to landfill

It's helpful to work with suppliers of equipment, materials and consumables so that they understand your business' policy on environmental issues. This will encourage suppliers to source and supply products that meet your requirements - see buying sustainable goods and services and how to reduce the environmental impact of your supply chain.

Finding a recycling contractor for your office waste

In order to find a waste contractor to suit your office recycling requirements, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • What materials will you recycle?
  • Will you need the materials to be collected by the waste contractor, or can you drop them off at a facility?
  • Is the service suitable for the size of your business? If you produce very little waste, you may not need a weekly scheduled collection.
  • How will you collect and store the materials for recycling?
  • How will you pay for the service? For example, is there an annual charge or a fee each time the containers are emptied?
  • What types of paper can be collected - office paper only or mixed paper, shredded and confidential papers?

Find information about licensed waste sites in Northern Ireland.

What are my legal responsibilities for office waste?

If you produce waste in your business, you must take reasonable care to store it safely and securely and prevent it from causing pollution or harming anyone - this is your duty of care for business waste.