5 Simple Zero-Waste Tips in the Office

shared office table
(Credit: Marvin Meyer on Unsplash)

The zero-waste lifestyle that you’ve implement in your daily lives does not have to end in the office. Other than bringing reusable bag, reusable water bottle, dining kit and recycling the waste you’ve produced, there are many other things that you can do to be more proactive in reducing waste from your office activities. From reducing paper usage to determining the right office supplies, your decision in the office can be part of a zero-waste lifestyle.

For office employees, the time spent in the office may be significantly more than the time spent for other activities. This will directly influence the amount of waste you produce from office activities. According to a study (Source: Forbes), the average employee uses more than 10,000 sheets of paper each year, which is worth $80 to $100 per person each year. Other than affecting the amount of waste generated by the office, this could also affect the efficiency of financial expenditure for office supplies.

In a digital era like this, paper print are often unnecessary. As part of the implementation of a circular economy that maximise the utilisation of a certain resource in order to reduce the amount of waste generated to landfills, responsible waste management in the office is not only beneficial to the environment, but also profitable to the business.

In reality, paper is only one amongst other types of waste produced in the office. This means there are still other types of materials that could’ve been saved from landfills, including plastic, metal and food waste. To prevent excessive waste generation, responsible waste management and good habit from the staff members are critical.

In Hyderabad, a company called CA Technologies has an interesting strategy to reduce food waste from their cafeteria (Source: CA Technologies). Everyday they show the volume of food waste produced from a given day at that cafeteria, and also the number of people that could’ve consume those food that are wasted. This strategy relies on the awareness of employees after given the data about the food waste they produce. The result of this strategy shows a successful decline in the production of food waste in that cafeteria, up to 80% from before this strategy was implemented.

Another example comes from World Bank Indonesia who already uses the waste management service by Waste4Change. World Bank Indonesia made an agreement that disposable drinking bottles are not allowed in meetings in order to reduce the amount of waste produced.

Zero waste lifestyle in the office does not have to rely on the strategies or policy made by the company. There are numerous things that an individual can do to be part of an effort to reduce the production of waste in the office. If you’ve implemented a zero waste lifestyle in your home, don’t hesitate to do the same in your office. See the following 5 tips and implement a zero-waste lifestyle in your office!

[1] Back to basic: Reusable bag, reusable water bottle, dining kit and stainless straw.

zero waste essentials
(Credit: Kelsey Knoch)

If you’ve already implement a zero waste lifestyle, reusable bag, reusable water bottle, dining kit and stainless straw may already be in your bag. This habit should definitely be kept when you are going to the office.

[2] Avoid wasting food.

Food waste in restaurant
(Credit: Strait Times)

From the example provided above, food waste that are produced by the employee of CA Technologies in India reduced by 80% after they are exposed with information about the number of people that could’ve consume the food they waste. This prove that individual awareness can cause a significant impact in reducing the number of waste produced in the office. Be mindful with food during any occasion, donate or compost unwanted food, and segregate them from other types of waste when disposing.


[3] Use recyclable, compostable and reusable office supplies.

office supplies
(Credit: Tim Gouw on Unsplash)

Some office supplies require further consideration before using them because many are not reusable and hard to recycle. These office supplies include plastic folder, staplers, highlighter, sellotape and low quality stationery. The following is a list of some office supplies and  their alternatives to reduce waste generation in the office.

  • Paper/binder clips over staplers → Paper/binder clips are as practical as staplers, but with extra benefit of being reusable.
  • Coloured pencils over highlighter → Coloured pencils are made out of woods, thus are easier to biodegrade or recycled. Unlike highlighters that are made out of multiple components, thus difficult to recycle.
  • Paper tape over sellotape → Paper tapes are usually degradable and recyclable, hence more eco-friendly than sellotape. The adhesive in a gummed paper tape can dissolve in water, therefore this material is 100% biodegradable and recyclable, unlike synthetic adhesive on sellotape.
  • Reusable high quality office supplies over low quality ones → The usage of low-quality disposable plastic items is often based on their low price and convenience. However, these items are more likely to end up in landfills. As a wise employee, choosing high quality office supplies  over low quality ones is the right decision. It is also important to take good care of things, including electronic items, to avoid constantly buying new ones.
  • Recycled office supplies (e.g. Recycled paper) → By using recycled items, you also support the recycling system.

    [4] Reduce the use of paper.

    (Credit: Lukas Blazek on Unsplash)

In the current digital era, it is easier than ever to avoid paper usage. Nowadays we can send documents, distribute presentation materials and even sign documents digitally. If a hard copy is inevitably required, make sure both sides of the paper are used. It would be even better if the papers used are recycled paper or produced using a sustainably sourced trees.

Other than considering the type of paper to be used, make sure that the amount of printed documents is in accordance with how much is actually needed. As an illustration, it is unnecessary to print announcement or posters in bulk to be distributed around the office. Just allocate one information board in a strategic area to showcase the necessary amount of printed announcement or poster.

[5] Sort the recyclables.

According to Envirowise, 70% of office waste are recyclable. Imagine how much resources are wasted if recyclable items end up in landfills. Segregate waste that are recyclables, such as paper, metal, plastic and glass items. If you or your office hasn’t got a waste management service yet, deposit your packaging waste in Waste4Change’s Waste DropBox!

In need for a responsible and segregated waste collection service? Waste4Change provides waste collection service for Jakarta and the surrounding area. There are three types of waste collection services, which are company/restaurant/business/building waste collection (Commercial Waste Collect), Residential Waste Collect, and Individual Waste Collect (pilot project). You can also be part of the Zero Waste to Landfill (ZWTL) program to ensure none of your waste does not end up in landfills.