How to Minimize Office Waste

Give employees a discount or incentive to use reusable plates and utensils.
Give employees a discount or incentive to use reusable plates and utensils. (Image: CandyBox Images/iStock/Getty Images)

Even the savviest of businesses find themselves unnecessarily wasting resources at times. Minimizing office waste not only helps the environment, it often helps your company's bottom line. For long-term results, give employees incentives to reduce waste and integrate conservation into your company culture.

Save Paper

Offices can be one of the biggest offenders when it comes to unnecessary paper waste. Whenever possible, keep business documents virtual rather than printing them out. Not only will you minimize paper waste, it's easier to reorganize and share virtual data. Set your computer and copier to print two-sided instead of one sided and nix unnecessary cover sheets on faxes. Reuse large envelopes for interoffice mail and paper that's already been used for scratch paper.

Reuse at Lunch TIme

Disposable silverware and dishes can be convenient but also create a large amount of paper and plastic waste. Encourage employees to bring reusable cups, plates, plastic containers and silverware. If you have a cafeteria, work with the company to give employees a discount when they bring in their own cups and other supplies. Food itself can be another source of unnecessary waste. To keep your office really green, create a composting bin outside your office or arrange a composting system for lunchtime food scraps.

Rethink Landscaping

A manicured lawn adjacent to your office may look pretty but can be a waste of precious water resources. Replace lawn and water-hungry plants with low-maintenance succulents and ground cover. In addition to using less water, ground cover doesn't have to be trimmed as frequently because it grows more slowly than grass. If you do maintain a lawn, water during off-peak hours to reduce evaporation and ask the landscaper to compost or mulch any landscaping waste.

Optimize Inventory

Businesses can apply waste-reduction efforts to improve their own bottom line. A more accurate inventory forecasting system means less waste due to obsolescence and spoilage. Study past sales data and ask customers about plans for future purchases. If you deliver to distributors and businesses rather than straight to the consumer, consider a demand-driven inventory system that minimizes unnecessary orders. If you do stock food and beverage products for consumers, ensure that products are stored at optimal temperatures to extend shelf life. Place expiring products on the right-hand side of shelves where customers are more likely to reach.

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