Design Elements

3 Keys to a Successful Recycling Program

Every business is different and so are their recycling plans, but the most successful programs share three major elements in common. Whether you are starting a new recycling program or looking to improve an existing one, you will want to be sure it is convenient, employee designed, and management supported. Read on to learn more about making these design principles work for you.

Keep it Simple. Research has shown that if recycling is made easy and accessible, employees will recycle more. Here are a few ideas to help make your program easier to use.

Consistency – Color code recycling and waste bins. The EPA recommends using: black or brown bins for garbage, blue bins for recyclables, and green bins for organic material. Whatever colors you use, make sure they are consistent throughout your facility.

Clarity – Create signs and posters with pictures detailing what types of materials should be recycled in your program. Pictures of the specific items most commonly found in the waste bins work best.

Convenience – Make sure there is always an opportunity to recycle wherever there is an opportunity to dispose of waste. In other words, pair your recycling and composting containers with each of your trash bins.

Recycling programs work best when developed and run by employees. Allowing them to drive or otherwise participate on the design process will not only help create an effective program, but increases buy in and participation.

Employee Engagement – Assemble a "Recycling Team" and appoint a recycling champion to initiate employee conversations on recycling.

Employee Experience – The employees know where recyclables and wastes are being generated so they should be consulted about bin type and placement.

Employee Involvement – The recycling team should help conduct waste assessments and be involved in tracking progress toward recycling goals.

Leadership should visibly support recycling, through implementation of policy, performance measures, training, regular communication, and other means.

Management Support – Implement SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time Related) goals and help create policies with the recycling team.

Boost Recycling Activities – Integrate recycling training into all new employee orientations and discuss recycling activities at recurring staff meetings. Promote your achievements and certifications.

Rewards and Recognition – Incentivize recycling activities and make recycling a part of job descriptions and employee performance evaluations. Check out our Green Business Recognition Program.

Learn More

The ReWorksSA Team is here to help with tools and resources, such as free waste containers and personalized recycling signs for your building.


Still have some questions? Contact us anytime, we can’t wait to help.