Office waste ultimately affects the bottom line of a company in a negative fashion, as waste disposal costs money. To minimize waste, identify sources of waste and identify ways to reduce or eliminate it.
In reducing waste, the first step is to prevent waste generation by reducing the amount of materials used. Implementing practices that use fewer resources or reuse existing resources results in less waste. Recycling is another way to reduce waste management. Although recycling diverts materials from the landfills and reduces the use of virgin resources, it still costs the company money to purchase the material and if the waste has no value, it costs money to dispose of it. There is also a cost to the environment in terms of the use of raw materials and energy necessary to manufacture the input material.
Best Management Practices & Pollution Prevention
One common office waste is paper. All types of scrap paper are usually in demand for recycling by paper manufactures and recyclers throughout the country. If the scrap paper is in short supply, the paper manufacturer, broker, or recycler that takes the scrap will pay the printer. The amount that the printer will get paid fluctuates depending on the current paper market. However, it is important to remember that paper costs more in its virgin form than what it is worth as scrap. Therefore, measures need to be taken to reduce the amount of virgin paper that becomes scrap.
The following are some suggestions for reducing paper scrap:
- Establish a company-wide double-sided copying policy, and be sure future copiers purchased by your company have double-sided capability.
- Reuse envelopes for inter-office and intra company routing or use two-way (send & return) envelopes.
- Make scratch pads from used paper.
- Circulate (rather than copy) memos via e-mail
- Circulate (rather than copy) documents, periodicals, articles and reports.
- Reduce the amount of advertising mail you receive by writing to the Direct Marketing Association Mail Preference Service and ask that your business be eliminated from mail lists.
- Use outdated letterhead for in-house memos.
- Put company bulletins on voice or electronic mail or post on a central bulletin board.
- Save documents on hard drives or floppy disks instead of making paper copies.
- Use central files to reduce the number of hard copies your company retains.
- Proof documents on the computer screen before printing.
- Evaluate who receives copies of each report to determine how frequently they really need it and to determine if each person truly needs a copy. Ask if an electronic copy will suffice.
- Eliminate unnecessary reports.
- Contact trade magazines to eliminate names of former employees from circulation lists.
- Subscribe one person to periodicals and circulate the periodicals around the office.
- Establish a central library of trade magazines and industry directories.
- Recycle paper products: office paper, magazines, cardboard boxes, outdated literature, newspapers and junk mail.
- Keep mailing lists current to avoid duplication.
Other ways to reduce general office waste include:
- Creating a recycling program for other wastes, such as aluminum and plastic generated from employee lunches.
- Encouraging employees to use reusable coffee mugs instead of disposable cups and pack lunch in reusable bags instead of paper or plastic.
- Instead of purchasing new cartridges for desktop printers, investigate ink refilling options. If ink refilling is not possible, recycle old cartridges.
For access to vendors who may supply alternative materials and equipment, see the PNEAC Vendor Directory.
Some municipalities and county government agencies have laws mandating commercial businesses to have a recycling program.