Engaging employees for sustainability

Our Services

June 7, 2019


Most people think waste should be out of sight, out of mind and that once it goes in the bin, it’s not their problem any more. Our waste audits and education workshops are an opportunity to show just how much recycling could be going to waste.

Pictured: Team members from Officeworks stores in Western Australia, on site for a waste audit and workshop. The region is currently recycling 84% of all waste.

Why do people put the wrong thing in the bin?

The waste we collect from your back dock and bins has been disposed of by employees and cleaners throughout the day but they’re busy, have other priorities and sometimes it just seems too hard to find the right bin or compact cardboard before it goes in the bin. Confusion between home and workplace recycling is another common reason why services aren’t used effectively, or sometimes the bin they need is just too full and they go to the next one available – leading to contamination or lost recycling.

But the cost of a heavy general waste bin, fees from contaminating a recycling bin or lost rebate from incorrect cardboard recycling can add up – not to mention the hit to your diversion rate and environmental footprint.

How to engage employees with sustainability

Waste audits and workshops are an effective way to get everyone involved in the sustainability process, providing visual evidence that connects action with outcome. James Cook University’s Environment Manager Adam Connell said, “With the release of the waste audit data, we can see which waste streams need tweaking. This will potentially increase our efficiency, save us management costs while increasing our diversion rates.”

Pictured: Waste audit preparation at James Cook University

A typical waste workshop done by Cleanaway includes:

  • Safety first
    Cleanaway resource recovery specialists conduct a briefing and explain how the waste audit works – reminding everyone to wear gloves at all times and let the group leader know if they find any dangerous, sharp or unusual item.
  • Sorting the waste
    Several general waste bins from the customer’s site are emptied and teams sort the waste into categories. As a result, they discovered up to 75% of the general waste bin’s content could be recycled with over half of the waste being recyclable forms of paper and cardboard.
  • Identifying why the waste was in the bin
    After sorting, workshop participants discuss the reasons why material ended up in general waste. Is it because they didn’t know which bin it belonged in, they didn’t have time to find the right bin or the correct bin was full?
  • Suggest corrective measures
    In teams, employees are asked to suggest corrective measures to for the future. What will they do to minimise contamination and maximise recycling? Would clearer signage help? How will they pass the message on to other staff?
  • Agree an action plan
    Teams are encouraged to come up with a plan for waste management that considers other stakeholders like casual staff and cleaning contractors.

Pictured: Getting down to business at a waste audit in Darwin

Success stories

Regular audits also help identify measures to minimise wastage and improve business efficiency. During a supermarket waste audit, we discovered multiple 25-kilograms bags of flour were being binned regularly when the packaging was damaged in transit. Once that was corrected, the issue never surfaced again.

Working with Central Park Mall, we identified several measures to increase recycling rates after an initial waste audit, which resulted in their recycling rates doubling from 28% to 56% in just one year.

For large organisations looking to drive through sustainability targets, these workshops are an invaluable tool for nurturing in-house ambassadors who champion sustainability best practices to their co-workers and teams.

Pictured: Waste audit with Officeworks in WA identified further recycling opportunities

Employees who participate in our workshops often find huge value that they can take back to their site to share with other team members. Others are inspired by their learnings to make a difference in their everyday lives and their communities as well.

“Thank you so much for the last two days. My team have loved it and they are all inspired to make the changes needed to make a difference. The fact that you pitch cost as an outcome so low on the reasons to recycle and focused more on “what’s right” got a lot of our people totally involved.”
– Marni, WA State Manager

Pictured: Marni, WA State Manager

“It was great to attend the recent Cleanaway workshop, it further opened my eyes up to recycling. In store this morning, I did exactly what we did at the workshop. The cleaner had five large bags of rubbish to be disposed of, so I donned the gloves and eye glasses and went through each bag. At the end of the exercise there was only half a bag that went into the general waste bin, the rest was recycled.”

– Phil, Officeworks Joondalup Store Business Manager

“First of all thank you for organising the waste workshop. It proved some great insight into our opportunities at store as to how we can do better in our recycling efforts. I will take these insights to my entire team to show them.”
– Charlie from Mandurah

Pictured: Charlie from Officeworks store in Mandurah

Want to know more about how we work with our customers to reduce the cost of general waste and increase recycling rates? Read more to find out.

Contact us today to learn more about our recycling education programmes for schools, businesses and communities or to book a free, no-obligation waste audit.