Recycling Survey, Part 2: Government and Small Business


We visited all of our island government offices to see how they all stacked up in the effort to recycle. Only one town, Edgartown, has an “official” recycling coordinator although every town, the county and the tribal offices all recycle to some extent. There is a significant benefit to having a coordinator in town hall. It allows for someone to develop new recycling opportunities while watching out for ways to improve existing efforts.  Edgartown extends their efforts to include computers and electronics. Most towns however have someone who does watch out for how well their co-workers are recycling.  Some towns even have two people. Tisbury town hall actually has an “enforcer” and a “retriever”; two dedicated recyclers who remind and check to see that their town employees are doing a good job. One comment received from one town employee addressed the additional benefit of everyone being in sync with respect to recycling efforts. When these same people are involved with purchasing the same mind set extends to purchasing policies such as buying post consumer recycled white paper or maybe even looking at products with reduced packaging. One town employee reported that trying to be green with purchasing isn’t always that easy due to lack of available items as well as high costs; purchasing also occurs independently in departments within a given town. If our towns and businesses combined purchases it would perhaps translate into more widespread use and better affordability.  

Small business represents another opportunity that sometimes takes a little effort. An effective and efficient recycling effort can occur at the smallest business in conjunction with a trash hauler, or self hauling as long as everyone cooperates and treats their work environment just as they would their home recycling efforts. White paper and paper products are the primary recyclable generated by offices. With single stream recycling now available, bottles, cans, mixed paper and plastics are easily handled. Corrugated cardboard is also a frequently recycled item and one of the recyclables that holds its marketability and value well. Businesses generating ”confidential” white paper can shred and bag this paper themselves for recycling or can hire a mobile shredding company to do that job for them.
Recycling in a small office setting requires nothing more than an awareness of what is being discarded. The Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank has what they refer to as a “recycling team” affectionately called “Sea Green” which works to maximize efforts to keep MV Savings Bank as green as possible. Their team has on-going periodic meetings to oversee their in-house recycling efforts at the various bank offices around the island.
People who don’t recycle at home are obviously going to have a hard time recycling at the office and that’s where a little organization helps, such as the use of containers which are color coded or clearly marked. A printed reminder on the office refrigerator can help as well. One business was having a difficult time because their office cleaning company had non-English speaking employees. Printing out some instructions in other languages can quickly remedy that.

Next: "On-the-Go"