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Sustainability at Work

Providing free tools and expertise to achieve your goals

Phone: 503-823-7037

Email: sustainabilityatwork@portlandoregon.gov

The best recycling signs are simple

Create custom posters for your workplace.

The best recycling signs are simple: They show only the most common items people recycle at your business, shop or event.

While we recommend our standard posters for offices and restaurant kitchens, our Make Your Own Poster tool is great for creating simplified signs for a variety of purposes:

Grab attention

Having trouble getting your coworkers to pay attention to recycling and composting? Try a little humor. 

The Make Your Own Poster tool allows you to write in text, so have some fun.

Cookie  Monster Compost Poster

Highlight misplaced items 

If you see certain items consistently showing up in the wrong bin, try adding a temporary poster highlighting where they go. 

Coffee shops and cafes

Help customers by showing only the items they'll use at your shop. It’ll make it faster and easier for them to figure out what goes where.

If you'd like to show the exact items you use, like branded coffee cups, contact us, we can help you do that.

Customized garbage poster

Events

Most event waste — such as disposable cups, plates and napkins — isn’t recyclable or compostable

But if you’ll be serving drinks in bottles or cans, you can make signs showing just those items.

Hosting a big event? You can rent free event signs and containers from the City.

Get a gold star from your boss

Get certified by May, and your business's name will be in our full-page WW promotion in June.

WW ad 2016

Get your workplace certified by May, and we’ll print your company’s name in a full-page promotion in Willamette Week.

Your company gets good PR, and you get credit for it. Win win.

What’s it cost?

It’s free!

But it will take some sweat equity — you’ll have to make sure your workplace has its operations in order:

  • Recycling? Check.
  • Water faucet aerators? Check.
  • Computers set to auto-sleep mode? Check.

Get started!

Download the certification application that best fits your organization.

Office application     Restaurant application   

 Retail application     Grocery application

Want some help?

We can check off what’s already done, and help you tackle what’s left. We’re here to answer questions, troubleshoot challenges, and cheer you on until you’ve got it in the bag. Give us a call (503-823-7037) or email.

There are also three levels — certified, silver and gold — so you don’t have to do it all right off the bat.

Trim your waste, no gym required

Three ways to reduce waste in your workplace.

It's the new year, and time to get your workplace in shape! Set some waste-trimming goals for 2017:

1. Cut down on paper towel use

Cut down on paper towels

Many workplace trash cans are filled with paper towels, especially in the restroom and break room. Paper towels can’t be recycled or composted, and even if they could, using less would still be best for the environment and for cost savings.

Replacing paper towels with high-efficiency hand dryers is another great option. Learn why and how to make the switch.

2. Drop those disposables

Ditch disposables

Disposable coffee cups, take-out boxes and plastic cutlery are like junk food — they’re quick and easy, but not great for you (or the environment).

Thankfully, there are a lot of things you can do to avoid disposable items. Use re-usable water bottles and coffee mugs, and take as little to-go packaging as possible when eating out.

At work, you can do even more:

3. Lose the water weight

Bottled water vs tap water

Does your workplace provide bottled water or use a water delivery service? Switch to tap water and you’ll be doing the environment, and your bottom line, a favor.

Don’t like the taste of your tap water? Installing a filter on your tap is a good alternative to having water trucked in.

We’re here to help your workplace keep its New Year’s resolutions!

Contact us to make a plan, troubleshoot challenges or share your success.

How to recycle old computers, phones and other gadgets

How, where and why to recycle electronics.

There’s gold in those laptops!

Q) Which has more gold and copper?
        a. circuit boards 
        b. raw ore mined for these metals
A) Circuit boards!

Circuit boards can contain 40 to 800 times the amount of gold and 30 to 40 times the amount of copper as the equivalent weight of ore mined in the US.

In addition, recycling one million laptops saves enough energy to power 3,657 US homes for a year [1].

Want to learn more? Check out the short video, The Story of Electronics.

How to start recycling electronics at your workplacesmall electronics recycling poster thumbnail

  1. Set up collection area.
    • Find an empty box.
    • Place box in easy to access area.
    • Label the box with a poster about microelectronics recycling.
  2. Decide where your business will take microelectronics.
  3. Create a plan for who will take the microelectronics when the collection box fills.
  4. Let coworkers know about microelectronics recycling, and show them the collection box.

Donate vs. Recycle

Donate: Many electronics can be donated, refurbished and used again. Free Geek is a great local option, just be sure to call in advance to ensure they can accept your e-waste: 503-232-9350. Donations to Free Geek are tax deductible and pickups can be arranged for a small fee.

Recycle: Broken or unusable electronics can be recycled and component parts made into something else. Find the nearest drop-off recycling locations through Metro's Find a Recycler or Oregon E-cycles.

To remove personal or sensitive information before donating or recycling your electronics,

  • Call Metro at 503-234-3000 for options to have data removed.
  • Free Geek takes data security very seriously: all data containing gadgets are either wiped clean using Department of Defense standards or are destroyed (safely) on-site.

tvs, computers, pritners, scannersLarger electronics

Contact Oregon E-Cycles for free drop-off locations for

  • Personal computers, monitors, laptops and tablets
  • Computer peripherals – keyboards and mice
  • TVs, including VHS or DVD/TV combos
  • Printers, fax machines and large scanners

These must be recycled separately:

To recycle like a pro, here's what you need to know

What to keep out of your recycling bin, where your recycling goes after it gets picked up, and how to reuse before recycling.

7 things to keep out of your recycling bin

  1. Plastic bags
  2. Plastic lids
  3. Plastic clamshells
  4. Frozen and refrigerated food boxes
  5. Paper cups
  6. Pizza boxes
  7. Batteries, of any kind

Why shouldn’t these go in? Find out.

Bottom line: When in doubt, keep it out. Recycling right is more important than recycling more, because putting the wrong thing in the bin (like plastic bags) can cause big problems (like jamming the machines that sort recycling).

A behind-the-scenes look at where your recycling goes

Once your recycling leaves your work or home bin, that jumble of paper, metal and plastic, all has to be sorted. The sorting involves conveyor belts, blowing air, giant magnets, and sorting by hand. See it here:

Vinod Singh explains how recyclables are sorted at Hillsboro's Far West Recycling, and where they go from there.

Once the recycling is sorted into material type – paper, cardboard, metal, etc. – then it’s sold to buyers in the region and around the world to be made into new products.

Read more.

Before recycling, can any items be reused?

We often focus on recycling, yet it’s actually at the bottom of the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle hierarchy.

If you want to save energy, water and resources, the best thing you can do is reduce the items you consume (products, packaging) and then reuse the items as many times as possible.

Learn more and then check out Portland’s many free and low-cost reuse, swap, repair and share organizations.

Thanks to our program partner, Metro, who produced the articles and videos referenced here.