Step #9: Educate Plant Population
Without plant-wide education, the best designed and equipped recycling program will not succeed. A comprehensive training program will help to foster an in-depth awareness about environmentally sound recycling practices and landfill opportunities. It will also help promote an overall positive environmental behavior in all employees.
By making the plant populace aware of the programs and educating them on their part, program effectiveness will be greatly increased. The recycling team must stress the benefits of source reduction, recycling, and purchasing environmentally preferable products throughout the educational process. This includes increasing awareness by speaking at all employee meetings, leadership training, and staff meetings. Be sure to solicit comments and suggestions on how the program can be improved. Don't forget to incorporate the program into the orientation program for new hires. If possible, you want this same message mentioned at senior management staff meetings as well.
The education program should focus on raising the awareness of how the program benefits the environment. This awareness must demonstrate to site personnel how their participation will make a difference. Internal newspapers, cafeteria table tents, and bulletin boards are prime media avenues to the facility population. Many basic media messages have already been produced by recycling associations. These messages can be supplemented by plant specific messages listing the materials recycled, program manager phone number, and similar information.
Another important communication strategy is to include progress reports listing the amounts recycled, the savings generated, and the amount of products purchased containing recycled material. By including this information, facility personnel see the progress being made and feel that their efforts are going toward a tangible goal.
An additional element of education is community
outreach. This may include visiting local schools to educate the children,
speaking at community colleges and hosting Earth Day activities. As part of
the community outreach program, materials and brochures furnished by recycling
associations can be used to reinforce your overall message. The education
process should always have a positive focus, regardless of whether it is
internal or external to your organization.
Publish a rule book of the guidelines specific to
your program (see SWELL book). This will be a handy reference tool that will
need to be available for the teams you train, new employees, or ones who
missed the educational meetings. The "clean out day" is a great time for
employees to get comfortable with the new recycling guidelines. The best time
to train the workers is when they are together such as team meetings or safety
meetings. The group meeting environment saves you time and gets the same
message to everyone in the area about the rules of recycling. Get into as many
group meetings as possible before the program kickoff day and pick out a focus
person in that group to be the resident expert. This expert can field the
questions from the team as they come up and either answer them or get in touch
with the program champion. This practice helps to spread the leadership
responsibility throughout the facility.