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New Models for Workplace Recycling in a Global Pandemic

September 30, 2020

For many business owners this year, workplace recycling hasn’t been the most important thing on the agenda. Between a pandemic outbreak, and the mass shutdown of the economy – focus has been fixed directly on damage-control, and where possible, emergency work-from-home protocols.

Today’s post explores how businesses can support each other during times of uncertainty, to form new, co-operative models that will help keep recycling programs on track – with a host of positive consequences for the local community.

The Least Important Crisis: Recycling

It’s months down the line, and the novel coronavirus has settled in.

Society has adjusted, even as disruption persists. Experts believe that COVID-19 will still be a major part of our lives for at least another year after this one. That’s another 64 weeks or so of masks, gloves, and alcohol-based sanitizers.

It’s also 450 more days of opportunity.

As companies continue to social distance, attention must be brought back to the destruction the pandemic is inflicting on the local environment. The ‘temporary’ rollbacks to the plastic ban will have long term consequences.

There has been a surge in plastic waste across North America, with ramifications for already endangered plant and animal life. We face a future where plastic will become a bigger component in our water supply, causing illness in ways we can’t predict yet.

Recycling at work has been side-lined for more important things. But long after coronavirus has passed, you will be managing the negative effects of this decision.

Why the Workplace is so Essential

City recycling programs can only do so much.

The pandemic has showed us just how poorly we manage large-scale crisis situations, and this needs to change. Action must be taken to avoid the inevitable break-down of important systems that are fighting against monsters like global climate change.

That change is set to happen in the workplace.

A recycling program at work is more than a tool to inspire consumer interest. In the current climate, it’s a way to contribute to protecting your local environment. The people who work for you know and understand this, and they want to help.

So, your definition of a good recycling plan needs to expand. The goal at all times must be to support the efficiency of your program and keep it going – despite disruptive forces.

Plastic waste must be minimized or eliminated. Waste must be diverted from landfills. Recycling materials must be made into new products. This is impossible without your help.

In 2020 and beyond, your business can make the most difference in the recycling space. It all begins with how you and your employees manage your recycling program.

3 New Models for Workplace Recycling

There are three ways a business can support recycling programs during times of uncertainty. These models position corporate interests as the entities that will benefit most from keeping the environment clean and pollution free.

The overall benefit of recycling for humanity and for the natural world far exceeds any other sustainability effort. If we can repair our broken recycling system, a lot of damage can be reversed.

#1: Sponsorships

Sponsoring technology that has the ability to drastically improve local recycling rates, and lower recycling contamination, is key to future success in your community. Municipal recycling program budgets are incredibly low, and are being cut every year.

There is no funding to keep these programs alive. Companies with corporate sustainability budgets should consider sponsoring local recycling programs in order to keep them afloat. By sponsoring new technology, your company can be directly involved in improving a local region’s recycling efficiency.

A company that sponsors a small town – can publicize this connection and benefit from the positive press that results. Sponsorships are between companies and local municipalities, who can’t afford to sustain their critical recycling infrastructure.

This sponsorship model makes your business the reason a town’s water supply stays clean, preserves flora and fauna in the area, and makes you an enormous part of community health.

#2: Community Awareness Events

A business should contribute to community awareness events that focus on their unique ecological problems and how to solve them with improved recycling practices.

 These events encourage community engagement, connection, and collaboration – and help municipalities get resident and workplace buy-in for the recycling practices they promote. Events hosted by one or more businesses in the community attract attention and press.

Whether it’s a golf day, a market, a fun run or a dinner – events are key in helping the broader local community understand the role of recycling in their lives, why it must be done, and how it can be done to achieve the best possible results. When you care, others care.

Corporate sustainability budgets should be funneled into these community events, to inspire people to unite against a threat that continues to damage our environment. The community awareness model is essential for getting locals to invest time and effort in recycling right.

#3: Online Education

Online education might be the quintessential tool to changing human behavior in the 21st century. With constant connection, networking ability, and live, instant messaging – people have the ability to organize and prioritize in seconds.

This is critical for times of crisis or emergency moments in history. It also makes recycling programs flexible, which insulates them from breaking down during sudden shifts – like coronavirus. Flexibility, connection, and education are gifts that every recycling community should benefit from.

Access to accurate information directly from municipalities can be a game-changer for a local community. Businesses that are dedicated to community education will endorse the adoption and spread of networks and technology that fuel cooperative behavior.

The online education model will bridge knowledge gaps and help residents and workplaces recycle better. These initiatives need support in order to grow!

When these models are funded and supported by local businesses, they will have a drastic and permanent impact on a community. As corporate sustainability budgets grow and local municipality budgets shrink, a natural opportunity arises for cooperation between the two. Add the right technology to that mix, and recycling programs can be saved.

It’s time for companies to step in and be a leading light in the future of recycling right.

What do you think of these 3 models, and will they change recycling?

Have ideas you want to pitch or want to write for Recycle Coach? Email us at

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