Monday, August 14, 2006

Recycling gone too far

My current workplace is, to put it simply, mad for the recycling. This is something everybody should be more active in but I've never seen a workplace embrace the principles of recycling so wholeheartedly. It's not done in a hippie way (and I've worked at Lonely Planet, so I know the hippie way) but in a totally pragmatic way. And it's also done very comprehensively.

We are way beyond recycling bins here. Along with that, we have rainwater tanks on site and the collected rainwater is used to flush toilets. The men's toilets have these new-fangled waterless urinals (this probably won't mean anything to female readers but male readers will recognise how unusual it is). All printing and copying is done double sided to save paper. This obviously saves a lot of paper and while the focus here is on environmental reasons for doing it, I think all businesses should do it simply as a cost saving measure. The first big business I heard was doing this was the Westpac Bank back in the 90s. They did it purely to cut costs and saved a fortune.

There are a lot of "message" posters about encouraging recycling, most of which are fucking stupid and sometimes downright embarrassing ("Print an email or save a rainforest?") Although one of them actually made me laugh. It features a cartoon of people around a meeting table with the manager saying: "War and Peace, The Sunday Times, even the Bible are all printed double sided. But Bob's report... Bob's report is sooooo important he just had to print it single sided."

The recycling committee decided to kick it up a notch recently and introduce food waste bins and this is where I think they've gone too far. I think composting food waste instead of sending it to landfill is an excellent idea but I'm very suspicious of this initiative. There's two things I don't like: one, they've gone to the trouble of pointing out that all food produced in the canteen can go into the food waste bin. The second, and far more disturbing, thing is that these bins have a tap on the bottom. Why the fuck do "waste" bins have a tap on the bottom that looks like a dispenser?

Just how many times are they planning to recycle the canteen food?

Maybe I'm the suspicious type but they seem to be serving a lot of soups and indistinct looking stews in the canteen since these bins were introduced. I'm bringing in my own food until someone can convince me that I haven't seen the "Chef's Surprise" before.

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