What businesses can learn from people’s attitudes to recycling

With events such as the Californian forest fires and the annual shrinking of the polar ice caps, people are becoming more aware of the threats of climate change. This is something that has been further heightened by the UN warning that we have just 12 years to limit the chance of a climate change catastrophe. As a result, there has been a boost in recycling efforts with local councils stepping up their game and businesses and consumers alike taking note. However, attitudes to recycling remain rather negative – and businesses are some of the worst offenders when it comes to recycling.

This post will look at how businesses can learn from people’s attitudes to recycling, as well as how changing the attitudes of your workers will also change their activity outside of work.

Businesses are underestimating how much waste they are creating. In 2015, the UK generated 2.26 million tonnes of plastic packaging waste, yet the figure is likely to be 50% higher this year, standing at 3.5 million tonnes. In the US, nine-tenths of all solid waste doesn’t get recycled, thus ending up in landfill sites that contribute significantly to soil pollution. 

Attitudes to recycling

WRAP recently conducted research on people’s attitudes to recycling. In demographics such as those with the “what’s in it for me?” attitude, 60% of people agreed with the statement, “recycling is too much of a hassle to bother with”. In those classed as ‘followers’ and ‘conformists’, only 26% of those asked are prepared to make the necessary lifestyle changes to better the environment, probably due to their lack of effort in researching outside of their inner circle. Additionally, many people feel that recycling is an inconvenience, with food bins taking up too much room, producing a bad smell, and attracting flies and foxes. Dry recycling also often takes up too much room and requires extra trips to be taken to dispose of it.

The points that businesses should take away from this should be that for many, recycling is still a chore. Although increasing amounts of the population are beginning to recognise growing threats to the environment and the importance of recycling, the task of recycling itself is still a huge chore for most. Rubicon has found that 9 out of 10 people said they would recycle if it was easier. Therefore, making it easy to recycle is a big incentive. Additionally, there is a significant lack of education when it comes to the environment, as well as recycling. Few know specific details when it comes to global warming and even less know what happens to their recycling once it has left their property. This shows that education is another important measure in aiding recycling.  

What businesses can do

So, how can businesses promote recycling and change people’s attitudes? The first thing to do is to not focus on changing attitudes; instead focus on changing the environment. To achieve this, it is important to target education. Organising presentations, and handing out leaflets and posters with environmental and recycling facts on them can really help. It is also important to educate by being totally transparent about your company’s recycling processes.

 A way of spreading this education further is to offer recycling incentives; perhaps a team in an office with the best recycling record could win a night out, or an early finish from work.

Moreover, the best way to encourage recycling is to make it easy by fully integrating it into your business. This can be done in numerous ways including going paperless, taking the company virtual, researching your supply chain and making changes to non-environmentally friendly elements, introducing sectioned recycling bins into the workplace, promoting scrap paper (especially in offices) and providing employees with reusable company branded coffee cups and water bottles. In addition, to these changes, placing an emphasis on corporate responsibility and putting time and effort into case studies will not only promote positive attitudes throughout your brand, but it will also educate your workers and customers.

Something that we cannot recommend enough is getting waste baler for your business. This device will sort and bale your waste, making it easier to recycle different materials. This will ensure that your work space remains tidy and safe. Moreover, this will really help the environment as all waste will be compacted into smaller stackable bales, thus helping to get the most from recycling space.

For more information, please visit our website or get in touch with our team for a free Wastesaving audit!

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