The power of a tiny can

We have all seen those tiny recycling bins around the office every so often, but who would have known that those tiny cans could make a profound impact on our environment. At Greybar, a leading North American distributor of electrical, communications, data networking and security products, they instituted desk side recycling cans which surprisingly helped the company recycle. According to Christopher Laughman, Graybar’s corporate facilities manager, the problem was with the trash and recycling infrastructure in the office spaces. “We had trash cans at every desk, but no desk-side recycling. There was a central recycling bin, but it was easier for people to toss recyclables into their waste baskets than to get up and go to the recycling station. As a result, recycling was not well used.”

About a year ago, Greybar decided to try a new method to help employees recycle. Through a innovative program developed by CleanRiver Recycling Solutions, called the Mini Bin Program, employees at Greybar now have a small one quart, bright green trash can on their desk with a label reading “the garbage I make” employees also have a desk side recycling bin. “At first, some people thought it was a joke, but the Mini Bin program really got them thinking and gave them the confidence to take away desk-side trash after a brief phase-in period,” Laughman recalls. “Now everyone uses it.”

At Greybar now, about 65% of its waste is recyclable, meaning that the waste being hauled away to the landfills has certainly decreased. Janitors record the number of 44 gallon bags they collect on each floor so that Greybar can monitor and observe how much is actually waste, and how much is recyclable. “When you are trying to implement sustainable practices at a corporate level, recycling and cafeteria composting, which we are also doing in some locations, are the most visible aspects of the initiative,” says Laughman. “Employees see every day that they are really part of the solution. We’re very pleased.” So pleased, in fact, that Graybar has just ordered more Mini Bins to expand the program to a third office facility.

The Mini Bin program helped employees at Greybar to recycle, in offices mini bins for the waste, and a bigger can for recyclables could go a long way, at Greybar the percentage for recycling went from a 15% to a 65%, a huge difference to the office work environment, but also our outside environment.

Why not start a similar idea where you work?

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