A Building Managers' Guidelines Book

Recycling at Work.
Make It Your Business.
National Office Paper Recycling Project
Recycling at Work
Building Managers' Guidelines Book, Second Edition Copyright 1995, National Office paper Recycling Project. All rights reserved.

Permission is granted to reproduce this guidebook for non-profit purposes provided that each copy includes the foregoing copyright notice.
Written and edited by Karen Nozik, Chris Denniston. Designed by Mea Rhee.

Table of Contents


1. Introduction: Welcome to "Recycling at Work"
2. Why Improve Recycling in your Building? More paper needed!
3. How to Begin: Check list, What to ask your recycling service provider, sample memo
4. Promoting your Program: Ideas, support materials, fact sheet and quiz, sample newsletter
5. "Recycling at Work" Kick-off Ideas
6. Tracking your Results: How to measure success
7. Buying Recycled: Closing the loop


Welcome to recycling at work!

"Recycling at Work" is a program designed especially for people in charge of workplace recycling programs.

It provides all the necessary tools to make an office paper recycling program successful, including sample memos, motivational materials, step-by-step instructions for educating employees, and a guide for measure results.

Whether you're just beginning a recycling program, or you need to reinvigorate a program that's been in place for years, "Recycling at Work" is proven successful in increasing recycling rates in offices and office buildings both large and small.

When you join "Recycling at Work," you participate with a national network of building managers and recycling coordinator who are committed to changing the environment at work.


"As a recycling coordinator, quality promotional materials boost my inhouse recycling program. And since I don't have access or the budge for an advertising agency, "Recycling at Work" solves the problem for me."

Jonathan Bectel Fullertech Corporation


Why Improve Recycling in your Building?

How times have changed! As recently as two to three years ago, people embraced recycling with such zeal, that more paper was collected than we knew what to do with. Today, the demand for recycled paper continues to grow, creating strong markets for recovered paper fiber. If recycling is to continue, workers must recycle even more quantities of office paper in order to meet the project demands of paper mills who have invested billions of dollars into new equipment for manufacturing recycled products.

This is good for building managers and recycling coordinators who stand to gain enormous benefits from running efficient recycling programs. Through increased promotion and education programs like "Recycling at Work," building managers can earn rebates, avoid trash disposal costs, and provide the crucial supply of recovered fiber that mills need by collecting cleaner and more quantities of paper from existing recycling programs.

"The "Recycling at Work" program helps building owners and managers with their bottom line, as well as with compliance of the city's commercial recycling ordinance. Since the flexibility of the ordinance encourages competition among recycling service providers for the building's business, boosting employee participation helps hold costs down for everyone."

- Paul Colgan, Public Affairs Director for the Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago


How to Begin recycling at work

Successful recycling requires a closed-loop collection and buy- recycled program. Follow the steps below to implement your office building's recycling program. Refer to the following pages for sample memos and worksheets to help kick-off the program and track your results.

The essential recycling at work checklist:

* Figure out how much paper your organization or office building generates
* Pick a recycling service provider
* Provide enough recycling bins for the building.
* Create enough storage space to collect the paper.
* Provide easy access for pick-ups by the recycling service provider
* Write down the rules of your program, standardizing such things as, "what can and cannot be recycled," "how to replace lost recycling bins," and "what to do with old phone books."
* Invite office managers, maintenance staff, and facilities managers to a training session with the recycling service provider. Include those who purchase office products so they learn which products can and cannot be recycled in the building.
* Promote "Recycling at Work" materials throughout the building. Hang banners in the lobby, place posters near recycling bins.
* Circulate a "how-to recycle" memo to all employees in the building. Make on-going provisions for training new employees.
* Host a "Recycling at Work" kick-off event in the lobby. Make sure the event focuses on recycling in addition to games and giveaways. Take photos, and place with an article in the company newsletter.
* Track building's recycling activities, post the results.
* Close the loop. Encourage office managers to buy recycled paper. Purchase only recycled products for the building.

How much paper does your office or building generate for recycling?

A paper recycling program is designed around the type and volume of paper recovered in the office or building. Recovered paper is divided into several grades of varying value to recyclers. Before you pick a recycler, you will want to know approximately how much paper can be collected. Most common programs divide grades by mixed office paper and by high-grade white. Cardboard, newspaper, and file stock are collected too.

To make an approximation of how much paper your office or building generates, estimate this way:

# of employees in the building __________ X 1.36 lbs. office paper per day X 240 working days a year = amount of recovered fiber the building produces each year.

Another way to estimate paper recovery potential is to assume that 70% of everything thrown away in an office building is paper. Check current trash hauling records to see how much money the building spends on trash according to volume, weight, or number of pulls. Multiply this amount by 70% to estimate how much paper can be recycled. Adjust the percentage up or down depending on whether your building has more restaurants or insurance firms.

"Recycling in a multi-tenant building can be complicated. I wanted to make sure that I communicated effectively with the different types of tenants in order to meet their individual needs. "Recycling at Work" helps me organize a program where no-one is left out."

- Juanita Stone MJ Associates, Los Angeles

Questions you should ask the recycling service provider

* What types of paper do they collect? cardboard? newspaper? copier? magazines?

* What is considered a contaminant? (envelopes? groundwood? colored paper?)

* How should the paper be prepared for pick-up?

* Will pick-ups be scheduled regularly, or must a call be made each time?

* Will they service different floors, or a single site only?

* Will the cost of recycling service remain fixed or fluctuate with market prices?

* Will they pay you for your paper? How much?

* Will the rebates depend on quantity or cleanliness?

* Which is more economical, to collect less valuable but more paper (as in a mixed office waste program), or to collect more valuable, but less paper (as in a grade separation program)? How about a wet/dry separation system for all recyclables?

* Will recycling bins be provided? How many? How much will they cost? Can they be replaced? How much space is needed?

* How long is the recycling service contract for?

* In many cases, your trash hauler and your recycling service provider are one in the same. Can the current trash contract be re-negotiated to reflect a lower volume of trash?

"Since paper typically makes up most of our waste stream, recycling the paper is economical for two reasons. First, I save money throwing less into the dumpster. Then, on top of the money I save, I receive a rebate from our recycling service provider because the paper is clean and a lot of it."

- Stan Paley Director of Facilities Grand tower, Detroit

Sample Memo to Building Employees

Your office recycling program will have a great chance of succeeding if every building employee understands the recycling procedure and knows that the program has support from company management. Start educating office workers by distributing a building-wide memo (either on recycled paper, or by e-mail) announcing the program kick-off date and location. If possible, have upper management of principal tenants or the building owner sign the memo. Of course you will have to adapt the sample memo to include specific instructions for your recycling program. Don't forget to include the "Recycling at Work" logo on your memo!

Memo to: Tenants, Office Managers, Employees, Maintenance Staff
From: Building Management
Re: "Recycling at Work" program

Don't Trash this memo, Recycle it! Today marks the first day of our new building-wide recycling program called "Recycle at Work."

"Recycling at Work" is an on-going recycling initiative designed to increase recycling rates in office buildings such as ours. It has proven successful in office buildings across the country, and I am convinced that implementing "Recycling at Work" in our building will save money, promote environmental stewardship, and create a sense of pride among those of us who work here. Please take a moment to notice the recycling messages placed throughout the building.

Since our building houses _______ number of employees, we generate a whopping _______ amount of paper each year that will now be recycled into new products instead of ending up in a landfill Clean and plentiful recovered fiber has substantial value these days, therefore consider our recycling program standard business practice in this building.

Please attend the "Recycling at Work" kick-off event during the morning of ___________ in the lobby of the building. Refreshments will be served by (building vender) and our recycling hauler will be on hand to answer questions. Instructions for how to recycle at your desk are attached. If you need more information about "Recycling at Work," contact ____________.

As participants of "Recycling at Work," this building is linked to a national network of office workers who are committed to changing the environment at work. As the program progresses, I will keep you all informed of the money we save and the amount of resources we conserve by recycling. Thanks for participating!


Promoting recycling at work in Your Building

On-going communications with employees in the building is the key to successful recycling. Now that you have standardized the recycling procedure and have sent memos to all employees explaining how to participate, it is time to generate enthusiasm for your program. Here are a few ideas to motivate employees as you set the stage for the "Recycling at Work kick-off event.

Refer to page 12 for the "Recycling at Work promotional materials.

* Create awareness throughout your building before the kick-off event with prominent recycling sinage. Hang a "Recycling at Work" banner in your lobby. Place posters on every floor in visible locations.

* Display messages through the windows of the building. Have the building engineers or facility managers light certain windows at night to form the recycling symbol or chasing arrows.

* Distribute "I'm recycling at work" stickers and/or t-shirts on every employees chair the night before the program kick-off. Ask workers to wear the shirts to the event.

* Use the "recycling at work" logo slicks on all memorandum and in the company newsletter.

* Send a news release to the local media and invite them to cover the kick-off event or the lighting display.

* Create a recycling display alongside the banners in your lobby which describes what paperscan be recycled versus which cannot be recycled. Ask your recycling service provider for props if necessary.

* Construct a "Recycling Goal" sign to leave in the lobby. Fill in the sign as you track your building's progress over the months. Include an incentive for employees to reach the goal together.

* Partner with a restaurant in your building, and ask the manager to distribute recycling information at the tables, or offer a free meal sweepstakes to participating employees.

Promotional Materials

The materials featured on this page are available by contacting the National Office Paper Recycling Project or referring to the enclosed order form.

Banners (6' x 8' horizontal)
Posters (20" x 30" horizontal)

Stickers (1 7/8" x 2 1/4")
Logo Slicks (8 1/2" x 11")

"The materials are tasteful enough for the lobby, and the Earth Day event we held in the building was both fun for the tenants and educational. I didn't have to re-invent the wheel or spend extra money creating materials that were already available to me."

- Cindy O'Drobinak Property Manager for the Santa Fe Building, Chicago, IL

Recycling Fact Sheet

As you begin your building recycling program, you'll probably be asked a number of questions. Impress your questioners with a handful of the following recycling facts:

FACT: More than 12 million tons of waste paper is generated each year in the U.S. by office workers. (National office Paper Recycling Project)

FACT: New York City is the largest generator of office waste paper in the country, followed by Washington, D.C. (2nd), and Chicago (3rd). (National Office Paper Recycling Project)

FACT: While it's estimated that paper makes up an average of 37.5 percent of the waste stream, in offices the percentage may be as high as 70 percent. (Franklin Associates)

FACT: Recycling adds up quickly - a typical company with 65 employees (generating 1.35 lbs. of waste paper per day) could collect 500 lbs. of waste paper in less than six working days. (National Office Paper Recycling Project)

FACT: American businesses throw away enough office waste paper each year to fill nearly 20 Sears towers from top to bottom. (National Office Paper Recycling Project)

FACT: Americans throw out 160 million tons of garbage each year, enough to bury 27,000 football fields in layer of garbage 10 feet deep. (Waste Alternatives Magazine)

NOTE: These facts are available in quiz form on the following page. You can photocopy this quiz onto your building letterhead for distribution to employees.

"Recycling At Work" Quiz

Are you environmentally responsible? Put your recycling knowledge to the test with the following quiz:

1) How much office waste paper is generated each year in the U.S.?
a) nearly 12 million tons
b) around 6 million tons
c) approximately 20 million tons

2) What city ranks highest in terms of office waste paper generation
a) Chicago
b) New York City
c) Washington, D.C.

3) While it's estimated that paper makes up an average of 37.5 percent of the waste stream, in offices the percentage may be as high as:
a) 70 percent
b) 85 percent
c) 50 percent

4) Recycling adds up quickly. A typical company with 65 employees could collect ______lbs. of waste paper in less than six working days.
a) 200
b) 500
c) 800

5) How many times could you fill the Sears tower with office waste paper American businesses throw away each year?
a) less than two
b) approximately eight
c) nearly 20

6) Americans throw out 160 million tons of garbage each year, enough to bury _____ football fields in a layer of garbage 10 feet deep.
a) 24
b) 200
c) 27,000

Sample Newsletter Release

Highlight your building's recycling success in your company newsletter, or send it to the local press to spread the word to other buildings. Use the clippings as a way to attract prospective tenants. (Send us a copy at the National Office Paper Recycling Project, and we will publish it in our national newsletter).

"Stepping up communications with the tenants really makes a difference on our bottom line. We're able to capture more paper, and because employees are educated, the loads are cleaner."

- Jocelyn Bender Building Manager American Heritage Building


Contact Building Manager

"Recycling at Work" campaign launches at (building name)

Starting immediately, office workers at (building name or address) will find it easier to recycle. The (building name/office has joined the "Recycling at Work" campaign to make collecting recovered fiber as easy as possible.

Since (building) generates _____ amount of office paper each year, "Recycling at Work" will help reduce our contribution to the wastestream while supplying valuable fiber to paper mills who need it to manufacture new products.

The program will be officially launched (date/time) when we will host a kick-off event in our lobby. Everyone in the building is invited to participate.

(Building's name) new "Recycling at Work" program is part of a nationwide effort to create a supply of paper for recycling and to help develop markets for recycled paper fiber. As participants in the program, (building name) will track results and promote the purchase of recycled paper products.

Keep your eyes open for the promotional materials throughout the building, and remember to make "Recycling at Work" your business.


recycling at work Kick-off Ideas

A great way to educate employees about "Recycling at Work" is to host a lobby kick-off event. A morning event allows you to reach people on their way into work. Invite the building owner, the maintenance staff, members from the local media, and the recycling service provider along with employees of the building.

Here are a few ideas that can be adapted to any budget. As the program unfolds, you can host different events to keep awareness up for the program. No matter which promotional idea you use to kick- off "Recycling at Work," remember to use the event as a platform to instruct employees about recycling in the building. (Employees may otherwise wind up eating free food without taking away the more important educational message!) Distribute recycling instructions, pass out recycling stickers, introduce the recycling displays, let employees ask questions.

1) 3 Point Shoot-Out

Create a shooting contest in your building lobby with recyclable paper balls. This activity adds a sense of fun to recycling and re-inforces the idea of throwing office paper in the proper bin. The event can be as simple as placing a recycling container in the middle of the lobby floor, or as elaborate as attaching a recycling bin to an actual basketball blackboard. Divide office workers into teams to promote teamwork in the building. Team members can be differentiated by "Recycling at Work" t-shirts. Mark off the three-point line with tape on the floor. Incorporate rules about the building's recycling program into the game rules, such as team members may only score if they answer a question about "Recycling at Work" correctly.

2) Recycling Jeopardy

Have representatives from each office in the building sit on the panel of contestants. The building manager acts as the host, giving "the answer" about the building's recycling program, while employees on the panel reply with the correct "question." A sample "answer" might include: Envelopes with cellophane windows, adhesive stickers, and goldenrod colored paper. (The "question" could be: What three things are not allowed to go into deskside recycling bins under any circumstances?)

3) "I'm Recycling at Work Pledge Card Drawing

Place a pledge card on each employee's chair along with a "I'm Recycling at Work" sticker for their desk or computer. Place a recycling bin in your lobby and encourage people to "recycle" their pledge card and enter a drawing. Filling out the card and dropping it in the lobby recycling bin reinforces employee commitment to the program. After a set period, draw cards from the bin to award prizes. Potential prizes could include: lunch for the office, coffee and bagels for the office, time off, a box of recycled paper, a trip to the local recycling center, or other prizes donated by venders in the building.

4) Recycled Paper Airplane Contest

Host a recycled paper airplane design contest. all paper planes must be made of office waste paper. Judging criteria for the winner includes overall design, style, hang-time, or accuracy. The accuracy award can be given to the plan that comes closest to the recycling bin placed in the middle of the lobby floor. If possible, use an upper floor that has access to a large atrium.

5) Office Recycling Photo Exhibit

Turn you lobby into an photo exhibit with entries from office workers in the building. Encourage employees to shoot photographs that answer a question such as, "Why should we recycle at work?" Prominently display all photographs in the lobby with descriptions of the employee and the office where he/she works. Prize categories can be created so that every employee with a photo entry wins a prize. Grand prizes could include a new camera, a trip, tickets to a sporting event, or a feature in the company newsletter.

6) Clean Your Files Day

Announce Clean Your Files Day as a way for employees throughout the building to become familiar with the "Recycling at Work" program. Encourage office workers to dress down for the day and send the recycling rate for the building through the roof. Create competition between tenants in the building by awarding prizes to the office that recycles the most paper. Kick-off the "Recycling at Work" program by having a face-off between top managers from each of the major tenants.

Enlist the help of your recycling service provider to lend enough bins throughout the building and to track measurement. Set a goal for the amount of paper collected from the entire building. If the building hits its goal, celebrate by presenting a gift all can share. Distribute instructions for Clean Your Files Day via e-mail or through a memo. Invite members of the press to promote the idea to other buildings in the community. Document the event by taking photos and reporting the results in the company newsletter.

Sample Vender Letter

Local restaurants, coffee shops, book, convenience, or office supply stores are likely candidates to partner with you to promote your recycling program. You will probably have the greatest success with businesses frequented by employees working in your building.


Dear (name):

As the building manager for the (name of building), I am seeking your support for a new building initiative called "Recycling at Work." This program is designed to reduce the amount of paper in our waste stream by increasing awareness for recycling.

To initiate the program in our building, we will be inviting every employee to a kick-off event in the lobby on (date) to promote recycling. I would like to request that you provide the refreshments for the event. Or if you prefer, you could participate by offering a prize to recycling contest winners.

I look forward to talking with you soon to see how we can work together to promote recycling in our building.



Tracking Your Results. How to Measure your Recycling Success

Tracking your monthly recycling activity is important to evaluate how well you are communicating with your tenants. The cleaner the loads, and the more recyclables collected, the more money the building will save on hauling fees, or make in rebates.

Please record the information requested below monthly, beginning with a baseline before the program begins.

Building Name
Building Manager
Phone #
Fax #
Type of Building
# of Employees
# of Tenants
Square Footage
# of Restaurants in the building
Recycling Hauler
Phone #

Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May
Previous Year
lbs. paper collected
lbs. of trash collected
$ paid for trash service
$ received for paper
Promoted Program Y or N
Special Event? Y or N
Banners, posters hung? Y or N
Memo written? Y or N
Other conditions influencing
amount of recyclables collected

June July Aug. Sep. Oct.
Previous Year
lbs. paper collected
lbs. of trash collected
$ paid for trash service
$ received for paper
Promoted Program Y or N
Special Event? Y or N
Banners, posters hung? Y or N
Memo written? Y or N
Other conditions influencing
amount of recyclables collected

Nov. Dec.
Previous Year
lbs. paper collected
lbs. of trash collected
$ paid for trash service
$ received for paper
Promoted Program Y or N
Special Event? Y or N
Banners, posters hung? Y or N
Memo written? Y or N
Other conditions influencing
amount of recyclables collected

Building managers who receive free "Recycling at Work materials are required to keep track of the amount of paper collected in your building as part of a nationwide database. Refer to page 12 for materials.


Buying Recycled: How to Close the Loop

If you're not buying recycled, you're not recycling! Unless we continue to support markets for recycled products, there will not be a reason to collect waste paper. Successful recycling means a commitment to purchasing recycled products as well as collecting.

Sample Memo to Office Managers and Purchasing Managers

Memo To: Office Managers and Purchasing Managers
From: Building Management
Re: Purchasing recycled products

As part of the "Recycling at Work" program currently underway in our building, it is important we support the markets that are created by collecting waste paper for recycling.

Collecting is only half of recycling; to close the loop we must buy recycled paper products too. Please adjust your purchase orders to reflect a buildingwide commitment to purchase recycled office products only. Let your suppliers know of your intentions to buy paper products containing post-consumer fiber.

So that we limit the amount of contaminants in our collection program, please make certain that the paper you order for use in the office is also acceptable in our recycling program.

Thank you for your cooperation on this matter.

"Not only does this building collect a lot more paper for recycling, the office managers now make it a priority to buy recycled goods. What goes into our bins, ends up back on our desks."

- Jesse Swope Purchasing Manager Rhee Consulting

List of Resources for Purchasing Recycled Products.

*Guide to Recycled Office and Business Paper Containing 20% Post- Consumer Fiber, The National Office Paper Recycling Project, May 1995 Phone #202-223-3088.

* The Buy Recycled Training Manual, The Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority, May, 1993 Phone #410-333-2730.

* The Official Recycled Products Guide, American Market, Phone # 800-267-0707.

* Office Paper Recycling Guide, How Your Office Can Complete the Recycling Loop. The National Office Paper Recycling Project, 1991.

Phone #202-223-3088.

For More Information about buying recycled products

Buy Recycled Campaign
United States Conference of Mayors
1620 I Street, NW Suite #600
Washington, DC 20006
Phone # 202-293-7330
Fax # 202-429-0422

Buy Recycled Business Alliance
National Recycling Coalition, Inc.
1727 King Street, Suite 105
Alexandria, VA 22314

National Office Paper Recycling Project

The National Office Paper Recycling Project is a collaborative effort by leaders in the public and private sector to establish an office recycling ethic in America. The Project's goal is to maximize recycling and disposal of office paper.

Principal Benefactors and Sponsors

Private Sector

Waste Management, Inc.
Boise Cascade Corp.
Union Camp
Bowater Communications Papers Inc.
Appleton Papers Inc.
Hewlett Packard
Fort Howard

Public Sector

National Association of Counties
National Conference of State Legislators
National League of Cities
The United States Conference of Mayors


Building Owners and Managers Association
League of Women Voters
Municipal Waste management Association
National Audubon Society
National Recycling Coalition
National Solid Waste Mgmt. Association
National Wildlife Federation
Solid Waste Assn. of North America
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

National Office Paper Recycling Project
The United States Conference of Mayors
1620 Eye Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 223-3088
Fax 202) 429-0422

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Last Updated: July 23, 1996