The primary waste coming out of most offices is paper and cardboard. Many offices also generate food and beverage containers, which can be collected as part of a single stream recycling program. Some larger office buildings may have in-house food service operations that generate food waste or other materials specific to the business type. Offices also have an opportunity to prioritize reuse and donation of surplus furniture and office equipment.
When your office hosts an event, the waste needs may be different from your day-to-day operations. See our Tips for Waste Reduction at Workplace Events for guidance on how to reduce waste, recycle, and divert food waste at your events.
Paper Shredding and Document Destruction
Paper documents that contain confidential or sensitive information are often disposed of as trash, either as is or after being shredded. However, there are many service providers that can recycle this material while ensuring the destruction of personal and sensitive information. For businesses and institutions that choose to process (i.e. shred) confidential and sensitive documents in-house, it is recommended to talk with your recycling hauler about whether or not they accept shredded paper in recycling bins.
There are numerous businesses in Massachusetts that can assist you in recycling sensitive or confidential paperwork. For help finding a paper shredding or document destruction service please search our database of recyclers.
If you are a shredding and recycling service provider and would like to be added to this list, contact RecyclingWorks by email or by phone at 1-888-254-5525.
Managing Food Waste
Offices can generate varying levels of food waste from staff break rooms, catered meals, or corporate cafeterias. Larger buildings with corporate cafeterias may be subject to the MassDEP Commercial Food Waste Disposal Ban. The RecyclingWorks Food Waste Estimation Guide for Corporate Cafeterias can help you determine whether your facility is likely subject to this ban.
Smaller offices without on-site food service also have opportunities to prevent and divert food waste from disposal. If your office has catered meals, consider donating surplus food. View the RecyclingWorks Food Donation Guide to learn more about setting up an effective food donation program.
If employees prepare and eat meals in a staff kitchen or breakroom, consider contracting with a hauler to pick up food waste on a regular schedule. Check with your hauler or end site to ensure you are collecting the correct materials, as they may have restrictions on items such as compostable bags and utensils. The RecyclingWorks Hauler Contracting Guidance includes questions you should ask your hauler and the variables to consider when setting up or adjusting contracts for trash, recycling, and food waste hauling services. The RecyclingWorks guidance for Source Separation of Food Scraps includes helpful tips for setting up and maintaining a composting program, including recommendations for signage and employee training.
For more ideas, see our blog post on strategies that help tackle food waste in the office.
Office Recycling and Composting Case Study
CET Case Study: Learn the Center for EcoTechnology’s approach to waste management, which maximizes waste diversion with recycling, composting and employee involvement.
Corporate Food Waste Composting Case Studies
Genzyme Case Study: Learn about the challenges and accomplishments of Genzyme Corporation’s food waste management program, and the steps they implemented to divert 6,620 lbs of food waste in the first year!
State Street Case Study: State Street Corporation decreased their total waste volume by 13% simply by implementing a pre-consumer composting program!
Learn more about the following business sectors:
- Colleges and Universities
- Health Care
- Property Managers
When you are ready to start or improve a recycling or composting program, call our Hotline at (888) 254-5524, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.