4 Reasons to Remove Individual Bins from the Office

At work, most people are accustomed to throwing their rubbish away at the nearest office waste bins. While common sense would tell us that placing an individual waste bin under each workstation or desk would make it easier for employees to manage their waste, it may be doing more harm than good.

Reasons to remove individual office bins

  • • Increase recycling
  • • Cut cost
  • • Ensure GDPR compliance
  • • Reduce strain & improve productivity

Individual Office Waste Bins and Inefficient Waste Management

Office waste is a problem that causes businesses to lose billions of pounds each year. According to research by environmental advocacy group Envirowise, bad waste practices cost UK businesses at least £15 billion each year. Meanwhile, it’s estimated that the average office worker wastes 10,000 sheets of paper each year.

Removing individual waste bins from under every desk or station in your office creates a system that forces your employees to rethink how they use and dispose of commonly used office resources.

For example, the Government of Jersey advises employers on its website to do the following: “Remove these rubbish bins and replace them with communal recycling bins and a rubbish bin located in convenient areas. This will also make cleaning your workplace more efficient, as there will be less bins to empty.”

In other words, individual bins make it too easy to throw things away. Removing them may seem inconvenient to employees at first, but in exchange, you and your staff are gaining the following benefits.

1. Effective Recycling and Waste Management

The majority of office waste — including papers, batteries, food wrappers, used pens and ink cartridges — can be recycled. But when faced with the choice of throwing their rubbish into an individual office waste bin and getting up to throw their waste into the recycling bin, the average employee would most likely go with the fastest and closest option. After all, the waste bin is right there under the desk. 

By setting up communal waste bins, you’re encouraging employees to rethink whether they need to use items that typically end up in the bin in the first place. Need to jot down notes? Why not use a notebook instead of pulling out another sheet of A4 paper that just ends up in the bin? Better yet, why not go paperless instead? 

Centralising your bins also means that your staff are more likely to recycle and segregate their office waste into the correct container rather than dumping everything into their desk bin. In turn, this makes it easier for your building’s waste-management provider to sort your rubbish into the proper bin for recycling and disposal.

2. Cut Costs

Commercial cleaners often spend a lot of their time emptying individual bins around the office, which could add unnecessary costs to your cleaning contract. Why not look into how much time and money you could save each week by removing personal bins under desks or start by reducing it to one bin per office, area or department?

Reducing the number of bins in your workplace can also save money that would otherwise be spent on bin liners and the time required for office cleaners to remove and replace them. In large offices, commercial cleaners can easily spend several minutes on this task alone. 

Making this small change to your office bins could reduce your commercial cleaning bills and allow your cleaning provider to focus on more important tasks, like handling your e-waste or cleaning spaces with lots of foot traffic.

3. Ensure GDPR Compliance

Beginning May 2018, every business in the UK is required by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to demonstrate that they can properly handle, store and dispose of documents containing confidential data. Failure to do so could result in penalties. In December 2019, a London-based pharmacy was fined £275,000 for incorrectly storing documents containing patient information and failing to mark them as confidential waste. 

While it’s likely that your office already has a waste bin for confidential waste, not all of your employees may be used to the proper system of disposing of documents with confidential data. Tearing documents by hand and throwing scraps into personal bins isn’t enough — these papers need to be marked as confidential and shredded accordingly. Removing individual bins is one way to encourage employees to be mindful of how they dispose of documents with sensitive information.

4. Reduce Strain and Increase Productivity

Having a central area for your office waste bins is one way to get your employees to stand more frequently and increase their step count. Encouraging your employees to stand and take a quick walk to a corner in the office also gives them an excuse to take a break from staring at a computer screen, check their posture and get moving. 

How to Roll Out Communal Office Waste Bins

Convincing your employees to embrace communal office waste bins is probably the hardest part of introducing them into your workplace. Here’s what you can do to make this process as smooth as possible. 

Explain the System to Your Employees

As with any other new rule for employees to follow, introducing centralised waste bins will likely result in some pushback. That’s perfectly normal, especially when people have been accustomed to doing things a certain way for years. The key to establishing buy-in is to explain why you need to recycle and segregate waste in the first place. Talk about how a centralised system benefits not just your company but also its people. 

Take Things Slowly

Start by setting up communal waste bins before you remove your employees’ personal waste bins. This allows your staff to get used to the system of segregating waste and setting up a routine of reducing and recycling their personal rubbish. Over the next few days and weeks, you can then gradually remove individual waste bins until everyone gets used to throwing their rubbish away in one central location. The idea is to show that communal waste bins aren’t as much of an inconvenience as they first thought. 

Listen to Employee Feedback

You should also listen to what your employees have to say about your communal waste bins. They may have questions that can improve the system or raise issues that you may not have considered. For example, your communal waste bins may not have factored in e-waste and hazardous waste like batteries, chemicals (e.g. cleaning products) and organic waste. 

Work with a Trusted Total Waste-Management Service

As businesses around the world take steps to reduce their waste output, recycle more and divert their waste away from landfills, it has never been more important to work with a commercial total waste-management company. A waste-management company can help you introduce a system of centralising your waste bins that’s efficient and more likely to be used by your staff. 

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