3 Steps to Green Your Business’ Supplies

smart business guide coverKirkland businesses recycle about 24% of their waste – but so much more is recyclable! Increasing what your business recycles can allow you to reduce your trash service and save money, since recycling is free. The City’s Smart Business Guide to Waste Reduction and Recycling (pdf) allows you to compare garbage rates, learn where to recycle tricky items, and reduce waste through easy-to-apply tips. But improving your business’ supply footprint isn’t just about recycling more. You can green your business’ supplies with these three steps:

  1. Buy recycled products
  2. Recycle what you can
  3. Reduce your waste

1. Choose Recycled and Recyclable Supplies

calculator-178127_1920-1024x683Purchase products that are made from recycled materials – preferably post-consumer recycled content. Ask your provider to provide green alternatives to your frequently-purchased items.

  • Use an environmentally-preferable purchasing policy to select eco-friendly products. The EPA has resources at http://www.epa.gov/epp/.
  • Prioritize recycled content for your most-used items, especially paper products such as:
    • Printer paper
    • Notepads
    • File folders
    • Letterhead
    • Envelopes
    • Post-it notes
    • Cardboard boxes
  • Think about all the products you use at your business. It’s easy to overlook recycled options outside of the copy room, such as janitorial products (toilet paper, paper towels) and break room supplies (cups, utensils, napkins).
  • Restaurants and food service can go compostable. Use Cedar Grove approved compostable takeout containers.
  • Consider packaging when buying products. For example, choose a brand of copy paper that comes wrapped in a paper sleeve instead of a plastic jacket.

2. Recycle As Much of Your Waste As Possible

Start with Highest Volume Recyclables

Prioritize recycling the products that make up the most volume in your trash. Conduct a waste audit by checking trash cans around the office and estimating the percentage of paper, metal, plastic, and glass. For a more formal waste audit, participate in the EPA’s WasteWise program. We can help you with this step!

Make Recycling Easy for Your Staff

recycle bin deskside

Get up to 10 free deskside recycle bins for your Kirkland business!

Once you know which recyclable items your office produces most, take steps to make recycling that item easy for staff. For example, cardboard is easily recyclable but is frequently thrown away because it’s annoying to break down and take out to the recycling dumpster. Encourage staff to recycle – attitudes from the top of an organization influence staff values.

  • Provide recycle bins at every work station and next to every trash can. (The City can provide 10 free recycling bins to your business!)
  • Place recycle bins next to printers and in break rooms.
  • Place your recycling and trash dumpsters or carts side by side so staff don’t need to make two trips.
  • Create a collection point for hazardous waste that needs to be dropped off at disposal points.
    • Batteries – if you only have a few, bring them to Kirkland City Hall. If you have many batteries, we can connect you with a battery recycling company for regular service.
    • CFLs – drop off up to 10 CFL bulbs a day at Kirkland City Hall or any Bartell Drugs, or take fluorescent tubes to Bridle Trails Ace Hardware. Find more locations on LightRecycle Washington.
    • Hazardous waste – if you only have a small amount, your business can drop hazardous materials off at the Factoria Household Hazardous Waste Drop-Off up to four times a year.
  • We’re available to lead 15-minute (or less) recycling training and Q&A sessions for your staff.

Tackle specialty recyclables last

  • Have tricky items you’re not sure are recyclable? Send a photo to the Recycling Hotline at recycle@kirklandwa.gov and we’ll let you know how to dispose of the item.

  • Collect specialty recyclables for offsite recycling.

Kirkland residents recycle + compost 69% of waste; businesses only 25%3. Reduce Your Business’ Waste

Eliminating unnecessary supplies can both save you money and help the environment by reducing production.

  • Make the most of your supplies – set print drivers to automatically print double-sided.
  • Reuse materials where possible. For example, save packing peanuts and air bubbles for your own shipping.
  • Buy items in bulk, and in fewer orders, to minimize packaging and shipping.
  • Find a second home for usable items instead of disposing them – donate old electronics and office supplies to local schools and programs.