August 29, 2023

Addressing Office Waste Challenges: Effective Solutions

Managing all of the different types of waste that your office generates daily can pose a challenge. According to the Environment America Research & Policy Center, the United States produces over 12% of the world's trash, despite having only 4% of the global population.

Offices and administrative environments make a significant contribution to this waste volume, as it is estimated that the average office worker generates about two pounds of wastepaper and paperboard products every day. But, not all waste produced by offices is paper-related. Your organization and employees may also generate medical waste while at work. All waste, if not managed properly, can pose a safety hazard and cause possible damage to the environment or one’s brand reputation. To help keep your business and employees safe, you can take proactive steps to equip your facility and team members with simple and confidential disposal options.

Four Challenges and Their Solutions to Strengthen Office Waste Management

Challenge #1: Sharps Management

The use of self-injected medications to treat chronic illnesses such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis has significantly increased in recent years. When managing these conditions outside of the home, patients often seek the privacy of restrooms to discreetly inject their medication. Implementing organizational sharps waste collection programs in restrooms can help to protect the company, its employees, and the community.

Organizations may also generate regulated medical waste when providing employee immunization clinics or other health-related services such as first aid.

Solution: Human Resources and people leaders can support their employees by providing a sharps waste disposal method in the office, rather than allowing employees to use the regular trash. SafeDropTM sharps disposal options are part of Stericycle's Safe Community Solutions, which help our customers protect the communities they serve. Stericycle offers sharps containers in various sizes, securely mountable to workplace restroom walls, helping to prevent needlestick injuries by encouraging staff not to dispose of sharps in the regular trash.

If your office is an occasional or small quantity generator of non-sharp medical waste, including blood-saturated gauze, bandages, or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM), our medical waste mail back solutions are a convenient, cost-effective option to manage that waste appropriately.

When establishing medical waste collection programs, businesses need to review local and state guidelines, as well as coordinate with property managers and their waste vendors. Be sure to also review your waste provider’s waste acceptance policy.

Challenge #2: Paper Disposal

Protecting confidential information from physical data breaches should be a priority for all businesses. Offices in the United States use 12.1 trillion sheets of paper per year. Throwing papers in an unsecured trash or recycling bin can leave confidential information exposed and at risk. Protecting confidential data not only reduces a company’s chances of a data breach but can also help build and maintain trust with employees and customers.

Solution: Certified document destruction solutions like Shred-it® provide secure paper shredding for businesses. As a National Association for Information Destruction (NAID) AAA-certified document destruction service, Shred-it® follows document destruction best practices. Shred-it® offers companies a variety of services to best meet their needs including:

Challenge #3: Confidential and Proprietary Non-Paper Items

Confidential information takes various forms, extending beyond digital data and paper documents. Certain products may contain trade secret or proprietary information that should be securely disposed of to help prevent theft or fraud. These items may include unsold or defective designer handbags or clothing, unwanted first responder uniforms, empty medication containers, expired credit cards, old employee badges, and unneeded casino chips or playing cards.

Solution: Shred-it® offers two options for destroying specialty products, depending on the items and location: shredding and incineration. Shred-it® can support the destruction of most specialty products via third-party incineration. Shredding or incineration by Stericycle is available in select markets. Contact Shred-it® for availability.

Shred-it® applies similar security protocols for specialty destruction projects as it does for document or hard drive services. With secure product destruction and specialty shredding services, Shred-it® helps organizations protect proprietary materials that could pose a risk to the company or brand if obtained by criminals, competitors, or the public.

Challenge #4: Hard Drives

Business leaders may be tempted to throw away old hard drives, erase them, or stockpile them in storage. However, data that they believe has been deleted from these devices could be recovered and stolen if not disposed of using a secure destruction method, leaving businesses at risk.

Solution: One of the most effective methods for disposing of old hard drives is to have them physically destroyed using a professional hard drive and media destruction service. A hard drive destruction service like Shred-it® offers state-of-the-art destruction in two forms, crushing and shearing, subject to local availability. Both destruction methods leave the data unrecoverable. Crushing involves punching an unfixable hole in the device with 7,500 lbs. of pressure, which breaks the magnetic surfaces. Shearing breaks the device or hard drive into pieces with 40,000 lbs. of force.

Learn more about how Stericycle can help manage the different types of waste that offices generate. 

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