Recycling Works Toolkit

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s RECYCLING WORKS: A Tool Kit for Reducing Waste in the Workplace is designed to provide businesses, schools, universities, and other institutions with up-to-date information to evaluate and establish waste reduction programs that are compatible with operations, cost-effective, and sustainable. Waste reduction programs will vary due to the type, size, available resources, and constraints of each business or institution; as a result, this guide focuses on key concepts and general program design considerations. Additional recommendations, activities and resources are included to supplement RECYCLING WORKS and provide more specific information to address the unique needs of each business.

Recycling is one of several waste reduction options available; however, other options such as source reduction and reuse are valuable considerations as well. RECYCLING WORKS presents an overview of the value of waste reduction in the workplace and the steps to plan a waste reduction program tailored to a business’s specific needs, capabilities and goals. Depending on the size of the business and the scope of the waste reduction program, these tasks may be executed by an individual or by a group of people on a task force or “green team”.

Once a plan is in place, RECYCLING WORKS offers suggestions of how to educate and promote the program to employees, staff or students. It is important that everyone is on board to ensure a successful program. Finally, RECYCLING WORKS provides guidance for monitoring and measuring the success of your waste reduction program.

While RECYCLING WORKS has been designed primarily to address waste reduction practices in the workplace, we have incorporated related sustainable practices that can be implemented as well to promote a cleaner, greener environment. Measures to reduce energy and water consumption in the workplace are offered, as are tips for reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in our travel to and from work.

Supplemental material (including a glossary of terms; national and regional organizations and industry resources for businesses, schools and universities; “green” guides for procurement; templates for a waste assessment/audit; sample letters and press releases; key State and County contacts; and inspirational environmental quotes) are included as attachments to RECYCLING WORKS to assist in expanding your projects and to provide additional support.

With the information presented in RECYCLING WORKS, businesses, schools, universities, and other institutions will gain a better understanding of environmentally-friendly and cost-effective ways to manage their waste streams. By knowing their options, plans can be developed to reduce, reuse and recycle, as well as to purchase eco-friendly cleaning supplies and products made from recycled-content or sustainable materials, which have less of an impact on our Earth’s resources – and are the driving force behind sustainable market development.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and Illinois Recycling Association (IRA) are looking for groups to partner with to host local presentations about this toolkit. To learn more about this opportunity, please refer to DCEO’s website or IRA’s website.

Download the pdf Workplace Recycling Toolkit .


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