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Green Office

How to Start a Waste Paper Recycling Programme
It takes 17 trees and 1500 litres of oil to make one tonne of paper.
In Hong Kong, about 9,000 tonnes of municipal solid wastes are disposed of daily, or 3.3 million tonnes in 2009.
In 2009, approximately 20% of the commercial and industrial waste disposed of at landfills is paper.


1 tonne of paper = 17 trees + 1500L of Oil
It is a very simple operation.  You can do it in any way that suits your situation most.  The following are some guidelines to help you formulate a plan for the implementation and running of such a programme :

A. What are the objectives of a Waste Paper Recycling Programme in offices?

The objectives are :
to contribute towards an environmental cause by saving landfill space, conserving natural resources and reducing pollution; and
to cultivate an environmental awareness among office workers who consume large amounts of paper daily.

B. What specific targets do we want to achieve?

The targets are :
to separate all recyclable paper waste from other wastes at source; and
to supply the paper waste to waste dealers or paper mills for recycling.

C. What is the optimum scale of the programme?

This is flexible. A programme can be organised on the basis of individual organisations or the building as a whole. The involvement of a greater number of organisations/buildings will, of course, make the programme more viable. Co-operate with neighbouring offices/organisations in these recycling programmes. Ideally the same cleaning contractor should be used by all offices participating.

D. What organisational set up is required?

If the programme covers a large building or involves different organisations, you may need a steering committee with representatives from different departments/organisations to :
plan and implement the programme;
liaise with the cleaning contractor and the waste paper collector; and
publicise the programme and solicit the support of all employees.
The appointment of "Recycling Co-ordinators" or "Floor Captains" who are enthusiastic persons with organisational ability and good communication skill is essential particularly for multi-storey or multi-organisation operation. They will be responsible for:
explaining the programme in detail to the employees of different organisations and staff accommodated on different floors;
ensuring that the collection facilities mentioned below are readily provided and properly maintained; and
addressing problem areas after the programme begins.

E. Are there any facilities required?

You will need to provide the following for the collection and storage of waste paper:

small containers for disposing waste paper (you may make use of unwanted cardboard boxes and label them as "green boxes" for identification purposes). Select containers to fit your individual needs, as dictated by space limitations, and the quantities of waste paper generated. They should be clearly labelled and placed nearby existing litter-bins, and

designate a corner in the general office as the "newspaper bank" for collecting unwanted newspapers. :


F. Who collects the separated waste paper?

Your current cleaning contractor will collect waste paper from the "green boxes". Arrangements should be made with them regarding the frequency of emptying the boxes and newspaper banks. The contractor will liaise with the waste dealer/paper mill on arrangements for final delivery. Many waste dealers will provide a pick-up service on a daily basis if the quantity is sufficient. Well co-ordinated collection arrangements avoid undesirable storage of large quantities of waste paper in your building.

G. Are there any financial implications?

No cost need be incurred except for any spending on publicity.
Agreement should be sought with the cleaning contractor over the selling price of the waste paper and whether any revenue generated is to be shared with management. This however is a delicate issue since the contractor may have been previously making his own arrangements to sell the paper, though unseparated. It should be borne in mind that this is an exercise in responsible waste management and social necessity, not in profit making.

H. How to publicise the programme?

Promotion and education are the keys to a successful recycling programme. This could be achieved through:
an appeal start up letter from senior management to all staff;
display of posters in the common areas of the office/building; and
visits to various sections and departments by the Recycling Coordinator.
I. Reviews
Periodic reviews of the operation of the programme are useful for making improvements and for keeping up momentum.
Regular communication with staff involved is essential in order to keep them informed of the progress and achievements of the programme.
J. Waste Minimisation
The primary goal is to reduce quantities of waste, i.e. to use less paper and to recycle what we must use. The programme will therefore be much more meaningful if it is complemented by a campaign to minimise the consumption of paper in your organisation. There are many opportunities for reducing paper waste. You may be able to add other ideas to the following suggestion:
reuse the paper which has been used on one side only for scrap paper;
cut down on paper for memos;
make two-sided copies;
minimise the number of files;
promote electronic mailing;
ask to be removed from junk mailing lists.

K. Use Recycled Products

To go a step further in promoting the environmental image of your organisation, use recycled paper for stationery, printing, packaging, etc. A successful paper recycling industry depends on a stable and long-term market for its products. You can make a valuable contribution in this respect.