How to Recycle Office Supplies

Three Methods:Preparing for Office RecyclingReducing General Office WasteInstituting Office Recycling

Many offices are feeling the push to "go green" and be more eco-friendly. This approach can include installing low-watt bulbs, recycling electronics, turning off computers or printers when they are not in use or recycling office supplies. When it comes to recycling office supplies, the old adage of reduce, reuse and recycle should be taken into account. Recycling these supplies takes preparation from the purchasing process to reducing paper usage and to paying fees for eco-friendly recycling. Read more to find out how to recycle office supplies.

Method 1
Preparing for Office Recycling

  1. Image titled Recycle Office Supplies Step 1
    Ask for a budget to introduce office recycling. While many domestic recycling programs are free, or at a very low cost, companies generally charge a higher price to recycle office supplies. This is because of the quantity, sorting, time and electronic recycling. Your company should be aware that a budget is required.
  2. Image titled Recycle Office Supplies Step 2
    Search for city or state incentives for helping your office go green. This may increase your budget, or allow you to do it at no cost to you. They may also provide free paper, plastic or cardboard pickup in local dumpsters.
  3. Image titled Recycle Office Supplies Step 3
    Appoint someone to head up your office recycling program or elect to do it yourself. Understand that many purchasing, recycling and communication decisions will be up to this person. They should have authority to institute the changes and commitment to the program.
    • The person who heads up your recycling program should most likely also be the person who is purchasing office supplies. The program is more likely to be effective if it is implemented on both ends of the supply chain.
  4. Image titled Recycle Office Supplies Step 4
    Tell the office by email or memo that a waste reduction program is beginning and all employees are required to take part in the program by abiding by the general list of rules you establish.

Method 2
Reducing General Office Waste

  1. Image titled Recycle Office Supplies Step 5
    Ask office employees to print only what is necessary. Also, request that they use double sided printing for messages that will remain within the office. A recycling program's budget can be significantly reduced by first instituting a waste reduction element to the program.
    • You can ask your office to place a signature on their emails that ask people receiving emails not to print their email if it is not necessary.
  2. Image titled Recycle Office Supplies Step 6
    Stop using staples in the office. Stapled paper can usually not be recycled. Encourage employees to use paperclips or fold the edges of paper. You can also invest in staple-less staplers that punch the paper to hold it together.
  3. Image titled Recycle Office Supplies Step 7
    Devote a room to supplies that can be reused. This can include binders, pens, pencils, computers, paper, chairs and more. Encourage employees to check for their supply in the supply closet before requesting new office supplies be purchased.
  4. Image titled Recycle Office Supplies Step 8
    Stop the use of colored paper or Manila envelopes. These 2 things can rarely be recycled. Envelopes containing bubble wrap should also be used sparingly because they cannot be recycled.
  5. Image titled Recycle Office Supplies Step 9
    Reuse large envelopes and boxes whenever possible. Offices often buy these supplies and then throw away the boxes they receive. This can be easily avoided by placing a label over the previous label and securing it with tape.
  6. Image titled Recycle Office Supplies Step 10
    Institute refillable ink and toner cartridges. Look in the phone book to find a cartridge store that provides this service. You may need to take the cartridges to them once every month.
    • You can also choose to purchase "recycled" ink and toner cartridges. This means they have been refilled and they are ready to be used again. They usually cost significantly less than new, printer-brand ink and toner cartridges.
  7. Image titled Recycle Office Supplies Step 11
    Remove disposable water or coffee cups from the office. Encourage everyone to bring their own mug to work or buy a large set of inexpensive white cups that can be reused and washed.
  8. Image titled Recycle Office Supplies Step 12
    Buy and use rechargeable batteries for cameras and other devices. Although they initially cost more, they save money in the long run because they last much longer and can be continually recharged.
  9. Image titled Recycle Office Supplies Step 13
    Buy recycled paper, recycled toilet paper and recycled tissue paper. Recycled tissues and toilet paper are not considered recyclable. If your office wants to go green completely, then it will be important to ensure that materials that cannot be recycled are made from recycled material.

Method 3
Instituting Office Recycling

  1. Image titled Recycle Office Supplies Step 14
    Buy bins to place around the office or in the supply room. Separate them into white office paper, writing instruments, cardboard, plastic, batteries and any other office supplies that your business uses.
  2. Image titled Recycle Office Supplies Step 15
    Look in the local phone book or online for "office paper recycling." Call a number of companies to get quotes and find out what and how they recycle paper, electronics and more. Choose the company with the best bid that fits in your budget.
    • Many local Best Buy stores offer cord, cell phone and battery recycling. Many hardware stores offer fluorescent light recycling. If these items are not offered by the company of your choice, you can ask an employee to visit these locations as a volunteer or during work time, if it fits in your budget.
  3. Image titled Recycle Office Supplies Step 16
    In many countries, TerraCycle handles items that seem like they cannot be recycled, such as sharpie pens, cores of tape dispensers and cell phones. Contact them at They have partnered with makers of common office supplies, and once you collect enough of the item, they ship them to a Terracycle facility at their expense.
  4. Image titled Recycle Office Supplies Step 17
    Create a culture of eco-friendly business. Encourage employees to take part and give incentives for good ideas about how to make your company more green.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic or cardboard bins
  • Paper recycling company
  • Office recycling leader
  • Supply closet
  • Refillable ink and toner cartridges
  • Coffee mugs
  • Rechargeable batteries
  • Terracycle account (optional)
  • Recycled office supplies


  • Remove or destroy the memory / storage devices from any electronic recycling. This includes sim cards from phones or cameras and hard drives in computers. Drilling holes through a hard drive will do the job.
  • Cell phones may be wanted by local alert programs. Check with police or mayor's office. Any old working cell phone helps.

Article Info

Categories: Reduce Recycle and Reuse