The first step in starting a recycling program is deciding what to recycle. Typically this depends on how much space is available to sort and store items and what types of materials the facility uses. It’s easier to start with just one item, such as paper or plastic, and get it right; then slowly add other materials over time.

Keeping the program manageable from the beginning helps get staff on board; if they feel overloaded, they may resent the program.

Don’t be afraid to get help with the program. Instead of creating a material recovery facility, or MRF, where cleaning personnel would sort and process the materials themselves, consider working with a local waste hauler to place a container onsite to collect recoverable materials. The hauler will pick up the container and do the sorting and processing work. The fees for this service are often comparable to the expenses of operating a MRF.

Building occupants will be more likely to recycle if bins are clearly marked and strategically placed throughout the building and outside so occupants don’t have to walk far to find one. Remember, recycling is threatened when waste receptacles are the easier option.