Three things to know about pre-cycling at work
On the surface, pre-cycling seems simple. You take a container, you check the label, you make sure it’s empty, then drop it into the right bin. In reality, it’s not always that simple. When we’re at home, we can do it at our own pace, in our own environment, using a routine we have developed ourselves. However out and about at public events, or in the workplace, it is more complicated.
Disposing of rubbish is an automatic behaviour. This means we don’t give it much thought; it’s a reflex. When pre-cycling properly, there are a series of smaller decisions that need to be made to do it correctly. We need to empty the container, rinse out any residue, and remove non-recyclable parts to the packaging. It needs conscious thought. This creates more complexity and more of risk of making a mistake.
This added complexity is ok if it occurs in a controlled environment such as our home. When we need to make choices while focused on work tasks or in public situations, there is more pressure on the decision. There are things you can try in your business to create more space and time for people to make informed choices when it comes to managing waste sustainably and taking part in the circular economy.
Here are three key points to communicate to promote pre-cycling in your business:
1. Pre-cycling helps recycling
Pre-cycling is essential. When businesses pre-cycle it improves the quality of materials, making recycling better. This means less is wasted and less resources are used processing the recycling. We can produce better quality materials to make new products. In many cases this means less carbon emissions are produced, supporting the fight against climate change.
Pre-cycling helps the recycling process, but it can also save you money. When you separate different types of waste, you are actively pre-cycling. For example, a business putting food waste into the General Waste bin will often experience a saving by adding a food waste collection service to their waste management. This reduces the overall weight of the bin and can reduce costs. It diverts food waste from landfill which is a contributor to climate change.
Pre-cycle in 4 simple steps:
- Check: look for symbols on the packaging
- Separate: remove non-recyclable materials
- Clean: rinse or wipe away residue
- Choose: drop the container in the right recycling bin
2. Waste has value
Waste is not perceived to have much value, but it does. A single empty HDPE plastic milk bottle isn’t worth much on its own but combined with all the milk bottles in the closed loop system, it has value to everyone. It has a cash commodity value, it protects our environment and our bodies from plastic pollution, and most importantly, it reduces emissions from having to produce virgin plastic to replace it.
Every time you pre-cycle an item within your business recycling, you are creating value. It won’t all track to your bottom line, but the challenges we face together stretch beyond balance sheets. Helping your colleagues and customers understand pre-cycling and how they can get involved makes a big difference. Taking the time to separate types of packaging and clean waste delivers a return for your community and environment.
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