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Getting Your Office to Recycle

I Got My Boss on Board With Recycling, and So Can You.

How to start an office recycling program, get your boss to recycle, green business

A few years ago, I was working a job in the retail industry at a company I really liked. The work was reasonably fun, my coworkers were nice and I had a decent parking spot. But there was one thing I had a problem with. We didn’t recycle.

At home, I was all about living green, and I always have been. I meticulously sort my recycling, try not to waste anything and do my best to buy products made from recycled goods.

At work, there was plenty of paper used to process and keep records as well as bits of plastic and cardboard that could easily be recycled. My company, though, did not have a recycling program set up.

So, I decided to take it upon myself to get my boss on board with recycling. Today, I present you with the lessons I learned from that undertaking, so that you, too, can get your company to be a little greener.

Appeal to Human Goodness

Your boss has probably heard about the benefits of recycling, but something has prevented it from hitting home. It’s up to you to get through to them.

In order to do that, focus on the issues relevant to your business. Throwing away a lot of paper? Talk to your boss about deforestation. Tossing out your fluorescent light bulbs? Bring to his or her attention that when those bulbs break, they can release toxins into the oceans that end up in fish, including the ones we eat.

Appeal to Their Business Side

If talking about the environmental benefits of recycling doesn’t convince your boss, try appealing to their business sense – something that’s getting easier to do as more people get on board with going green.

People today are willing to pay more for greener products, so explain to your boss how recycling could actually help your sales if you let people know about your new green initiative. Also, take a look at what your competitors are doing. Chances are at least a few of them are marketing themselves as green in some way, so show your boss where your company could be missing out.

Take the Lead

Although your boss may want to recycle after you explain the environmental and business benefits, he or she still might not do so because it seems more difficult than it really is.

Make starting the initiative easier for your boss by providing them with information about starting a recycling program and explaining how easy it is. You could even outline a plan and present it to your boss. The less it work it is for them, the more likely they are to go through with it.

If your boss is still reluctant, you could offer to take charge of the recycling program. It’s not likely that they will shoot down the idea if it doesn’t require any extra work for other employees. At that point, all upper management has to do is greenlight your recycling initiative.

Recycling is one of the main tenets of going green. While it’s fairly common today, some companies still aren’t on board. If that’s the case at your company, you may be able to do something to change it. Explain to your boss the environmental and economic benefits of recycling, the risks of not recycling and, if all else fails, offer to take charge of the program yourself.

I finally convinced my boss that our company should recycle and got my program started. It became one of the accomplishments at that job that I was most proud of, because I knew it could really make a difference. Now, I challenge you — go out and do the same!


Inside Walmart’s Sustainability Agenda

Wal-Mart has been making changes to be more sustainable. What are those changes and when are they happening? 

Inside Walmart's Sustainability Agenda

Contrary to some critics, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. recently announced that it plans to double to sales of locally-grown produce by 2025—putting the store at the forefront of the sustainable movement. In addition, it will expand its sustainable sourcing of 20 commodities including bananas and coffee, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This is all part of the company’s new commitments within its sustainability agenda.

Wal-Mart’s Chief Executive Doug McMillon said the objective is to reduce 18 percent of operation emissions by 2025. This plan was approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative, which is aligned with the Paris Climate Agreement. Moreover, the company will work with suppliers to reduce emissions by one gigaton by 2030.

In real terms, this equates to taking over 211 million cars off of U.S. roads. Other highlights include achieving zero waste to landfills in key markets by 2025, working with partners to treat workers ethically across the supply chain and reduce packaging waste.

Cage-free eggs

This isn’t the first step Wal-Mart has taken towards more sustainable operations, retailing and production. The company has changed the way America, and the world, shops. Back in April, the company announced that it will switch its supply chain to 100 percent cage-free eggs by 2025 for all of its 4,600 U.S. Wal-Mart and 650 Sam’s Club locations.

Since Wal-Mart makes up for 25 percent of all groceries sold in the U.S., that means around 11 billion eggs per year. Other companies that have made cage-free egg commitments include Target, Trader Joe’s, Costco, General Mills, Kellog, ConAgra, Unilever and McDonald’s.

Kathleen McLaughlin, chief sustainability officer at Walmart said in a statement, “Our customers and associates count on Walmart and Sam’s Club to deliver on affordability and quality, while at the same time offering transparency into how their food is grown and raised. Our commitment to transition to a cage-free egg supply chain recognizes that expectation and represents another step we are taking to improve transparency for food we sell in our U.S. stores and clubs.”

The cage-free initiative will  “require 100 percent of shell egg suppliers to be certified and fully compliant with United Egg Producers (UEP) Animal Husbandry Guidelines or equivalent standards.” After this particular announcement, Wayne Pacelle–the CEO and president of the Humane Society of the United States–praised Wal-Mart.

Inside Walmart's Sustainability Agenda

Fresh food at the forefront

The company already has a fresh food strategy. Greg Foran, president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart U.S. stated, “We’re seeing it with some better traffic, comps, bigger basket sizes, and it’s happening quite simply because customers are seeing better quality. Overall fresh impression is a measure based on customer surveys … and we have customers that rate our fresh department, and we use that to see how we stack up to our competitors. So as a data point, we’ve seen about a 700 base improvement (from a year ago). It’s a pretty big shift. We have more to do, though, and our fresh team is focused on getting more of the items customers want and laying them out really well.”

The company redesigned the produce section in 3,100 stores. Mr. Foran explained, “Project Dangle is what we’ve called it. I’m pleased with how that’s actually rolled itself out. And we’re working on flow so that we have less waste. And at the end of the day, that’s giving better shelf life to customers when they get home. We’re seeing that because we’re seeing that the inventory in fruit and veg has come down a day and a half versus a year ago. That’s good. And we’ve expanded our footprint with more sourcing hubs, both locally and in the U.S., and now working … internationally on how we can create even better leverage there.” Furthermore, Wal-Mart opened a new milk plant in Fort Wayne, Indiana in order to maintain freshness, with value.

What do you think of Wal-Mart’s sustainability agenda? Share your thoughts in the comments below.