Department of Energy

Simple But Effective - Recycling Office Supplies

Perhaps a cliché suggestion but the use, and misuse, of office supplies in the government is disturbing. The most notorious offender: plastic 3 ring binders. They can cost $10 each, and get thrown away like its nothing. Then, instead of reusing the binder, a new one is purchased. Another $10.

A shiny new binder every time a report is printed for internal use is utterly ridiculous. It take 3 seconds to empty a binder, recycle the paper, and shelf it for future use, yet every dumpster in my building has piles of perfectly good binders. The cost to haul them away as part of the waste stream is hard to factor, and may be small, but it’s not insignificant.

I’ve also found perfectly good laptop cases, boxes of Post-It notes still in their packaging, boxes of pens, and all manner of office supplies in hallway dumpsters.

Recycling bins are placed next to waste bins for all sorts of things, like soda cans and plastic bottles. Why not do the same for office supplies? A basket could be hung on each dumpster, or a separate receptacle could be next to each dumpster. These would be for re-usable office supplies that would otherwise just be thrown away. Or, a “surplus” area, like often used for excess furniture, could be dedicated to using as an office supply exchange area. Or, onsite vendors who sell office supplies could be required to accept and redistribute used office supplies. Even at a negotiated cost it would save money to pay $1 for a used binder than to pay $10 for the shiny new one.

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Idea No. 308