What Does The Future of Recycling at Work Look Like?
August 20, 2020
In the age of COVID-19, the future of recycling is uncertain.
There is a greater need to recycle accurately, to get more people to do it regularly, and to make it a part of North American corporate culture.
The entire recycling industry may depend on how workplaces across the continent embrace their role in the process. Businesses have the power to impact enormous transformative change. For recycling programs to continue, businesses large and small must adopt new recycling technologies.
There are far reaching benefits that extend to all sectors of sustainable living. Not only is there a positive economic and environmental impact, but companies of the future will discover incremental value in moving towards zero-waste processes, and tech-optimized recycling systems.
In this article we investigate what the future of recycling work will be and what it might look like in the smart cities of tomorrow. Here is how your business could recycle in a few years’ time.
The recycling industry was already in serious decline, but now we have an opposing force – increased production of single-use plastics and additional investment by the petrochemical industry to the tune of $200 billion. The plastic problem will be infinitely worse in the future.
As a result, recycling infrastructure needs to accelerate and evolve to meet these challenges. The future of recycling in America relies on our ability to reuse and effectively recycle plastic waste.
Here is what the future of plastic recycling will look like at work:
- Plastic collections or drop-off programs: Any plastic that can be recycled through chemical or mechanical recycling will be collected from your place of work, to be processed at a plastic recycling plant. These plants will convert plastic into energy or feedstock for other products.
- Your workplace plastic recycling program will need to become sophisticated, and segmented depending on your business model. Plastic can be sold for feedstock as additional revenue for your business, or it can be used to make products of your own. Adding recycled plastic to your list of raw materials can drastically reduce your monthly Cost of Goods expenses.
- A sophisticated plastic recycling program will use Internet of Things recycling technology, and Artificial Intelligence recycling technology, with a network-centric and front-facing app. The goal of this system will be to increase your company’s recycling rate, reduce wish-cycling (also called recycling contamination) and improve employee recycling IQ.
The future of recycling at work will involve leveraging these key technology areas, so that data can be collected, education can be enhanced, and materials can be efficiently processed and collected.
Intelligent Data-Feedback Systems
Smart cities are already using Internet of Things (IoT) technology to create networked areas of smart bins – but in the future this technology has a multitude of business applications.
Cities use IoT sensors to monitor changes in the environment. This lets the collection depot know when bins are full, and they can send out trucks accordingly. It saves the depot money on trips, helps them streamline collections and it’s good for the environment.
IoT technology connects things in the physical world to the internet, and allows us to track, measure and optimize their use. This will eventually be used in every business to improve and enhance employee recycling practices. Sensors can read data using light, motion, pressure and temperature!
Your business will be able to place sensors in recycling bins, to collect data on how your employees are recycling on a daily basis. Using this data, you will be better positioned to implement much-needed policies, educational programs and convert the recycling you collect into tangible short-term assets for your company.
With the power of networks your business will see what the companies around you are doing with their recycling, when it’s collected and where it’s going.
Business communities that embrace a zero waste philosophy now stand to benefit the most in the future – when the circular economy is standard.
Employee Gamification and Incentives-Based Recycling
Your company will have many sustainability programs on the go, and some of them will be connected to AI-driven employee recycling.
Using an app, employees will be able to track and monitor how much they recycle, how accurate their recycling is, and even get real-time reward notifications on the job.
This business recycling network could exist within your company only, or you could choose to share your network with others – to create incentives-based progress.
Using gamification (game mechanics to inspire desired outcomes) you will be able to incentivize recycling right, and often, using badges, points, leader boards and friendly neighborhood competitions.
Imagine a small town where all the pizza places compete to recycle the most, or achieve the best-possible results for the community! Not only would network technology like this instigate critical change, it would bring people together for a common green purpose.
The future of recycling at work will include these vital technologies – and they will help correct the problems involved with recycling correctly today. Successful city recycling programs will rely heavily on corporate involvement, and your use of IoT, AI and network technology.
With smarter recycling infrastructure in your business, you’ll contribute to a brighter future where nothing is wasted, the environment is cherished and people use technology to form better behaviors. Make the decision right now to start, and improve how you recycle.
Need specific information for where you live?
Wondering about recycling instructions for items in your municipality? Use our Find My Municipality tool and learn recycling information specific to your municipality.
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