At work

Rethink Waste aims to highlight where waste occurs in the workplace and recommend new habits that will help you significantly reduce the rubbish generated in your workplace.

Many councils have introduced special collection services, in addition to regular kerbside services, that provide an opportunity for workplaces to sort and separate their general rubbish and other waste from recycling.

By rethinking what we do with our waste, there are many things you can do at work to reduce the amount of rubbish that ends up in landfill. Rethink Waste will show you how.

Waste management practices follow a hierarchy. Avoidance sits at the top and is the best way to reduce waste in the workplace. Avoiding waste generation also saves energy, money, resources and over-manufacturing of commonly used goods. As a business, encouraging your employees and clients to take the below steps can help reduce your waste management costs.

Avoid creating waste:

  • Take your favourite coffee mug or travel mug with you for takeaway coffee. Some reusable cups we know of include Keep Cups, thermos cups, Hookturn reusable coffee cups, a JOCO glass reusable coffee cup and DCI Eco Cups.
  • Buy common grocery items in bulk and take your own containers to the bulk grocery store.
  • Carry reusable bags everywhere you go for all types of shopping.
  • Pack your lunch in a reusable container
  • Plan your meals for the workplace in advance to avoid throwing food out


Consider having one day each week as a “zero waste lunch” day.

Reuse to reduce waste:

  • Reuse folders when projects have finished
  • Make a notebook from unwanted, single-sided printed paper
  • Use a refillable pen rather than buying a new pen each time one runs out
  • Set your printer to default print on both sides
  • Place labels over old addresses and re-use used envelopes that are in good condition. Alternatively, use them as notepaper
  • Donate unwanted clothes and reusable workplace items to your local charity shop
  • Consider swapping clothes and toys with your colleagues and friends rather than throwing them out

Contact your local council for details of special collections available in your area for other items such as books, furniture, batteries and fluorescent lighting.


Workplaces can sometimes hold a stockpile of hazardous waste. With regular workforce turnover, hazardous items can be left in storerooms or at the back of cupboards and otherwise go unnoticed.

It is not permitted and it can also be dangerous to discard hazardous waste in your general council-provided bin. Items that are not accepted in general council-provided rubbish collections include:

  • Agricultural chemicals and drums
  • Batteries (for example car, mobile phone or regular household batteries)
  • Cleaning and polishing chemicals
  • Motor oils (for example from cars or mowers)
  • Obsolete computer equipment, TVs (e-waste)
  • Out of date or unwanted pharmaceuticals (all medicines)
  • Pesticides and other garden chemicals
  • Petrol and kerosene
  • Solvent-based paints
  • Swimming pool or spa bath chemicals
  • Thermometers, barometers, thermostats, fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent globes
  • Tyres

There are many ways of safely disposing of hazardous waste.  This is what you can do:

  • Agricultural chemicals and drums – ChemClear accepts agricultural and veterinary chemicals for safe disposal and drumMUSTER accepts empty chemical drums for recycling.
  • Gas cylinders (LPG) – This including cylinders for BBQs, patio heaters, caravans, camping and lamps. These cylinders can be returned through swap programs provided by retailers for replacement, refilling or disposal.
  • Laser and printer inkjet cartridges – These can be taken to numerous retail outlets for recycling, including Australia Post, Harvey Norman and Officeworks outlets.
  • Many council offices, mobile phone retailers and other retail stores will accept used mobile phones and accessories for recycling via the Mobile Muster recycling service. Check out


Hazardous waste has the potential to harm you or your workplace. Support your site manager in holding a ‘Hazardous Waste Audit’ and disposing of any unsafe items.

Some councils offer recycling and disposal services for some hazardous waste materials. Contact your local council to safely dispose of:

  • Car batteries
  • Computers and TVs  (e-waste)
  • Fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent globes
  • Gas cylinders
  • Household batteries
  • Paint
  • Used motor oils
  • Used cooking oil

If you are unsure if the materials you have to dispose of are hazardous, give theEPA hotline a call on 1300 135 531.


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    Did you know that organic waste in landfill is harmful to our environment. Due to the lack of oxygen (landfill cells are typically an anaerobic environment), organic waste in landfill will generate more methane when it breaks down than when organic waste is broken down in composting. When methane is released into the atmosphere, it is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

    However, out in the open, composting is a safe and natural way of reducing waste. Alternatively, a worm farm is a great way to manage office food scraps and they require little space and little maintenance.

    If composting is not possible in your workplace, contact your local council to find out if a food and green waste collection is offered in your area. If your local council offers a green waste collection, ask if it can take meat scraps, dairy, bones and garden waste.  Councils across Tasmania are starting to introduce kerbside food and garden organics collection and composting services too (known as FOGO).

    If you are lucky enough to have a spare corner outdoors or a garden in your workplace, great things to compost include:

    • Leaves and weeds
    • Straw, hay and other dried grasses
    • Prunings from the garden
    • Shredded newspaper and other soft paper products
    • Fruit and vegetable scraps
    • Tea and coffee grounds
    • Other food scraps (but generally not fish, dairy, meat or bones)


    People in the workplace who have chickens or gardens at home might appreciate some food scraps for chook feed or home composting.

    Great things you can do with compost or worm castings:

    • Use compost on the work place garden for weed control
    • Use compost on the work place garden to control pests and avoid using herbicides
    • Use compost on the work place garden to retain moisture
    • Feed your office plants with worm castings from time to time to keep them healthy


    Workplaces that regularly produce large quantities of organic waste can make enquiries to large scale composting operations around the state about starting a commercial organics collection.

    Recycling saves landfill space, preserves natural resources and in many cases also saves energy and water.

    Whether you work at home, in an office, in a factory, on the road or outdoors, you can recycle a large range of general packaging and workplace materials including glass, plastic, paper and cardboard.

    In Tasmania these items can be accepted in standard council-provided recycling collections:

    • Clean paper and cardboard – includes office paper, cardboard boxes and packaging, egg cartons, telephone books, newspaper, pizza boxes (clean), magazines, pamphlets and paper bags.
    • Glass bottles and jars (empty).
    • Metals – including aluminium cans, steel cans, tin-plated steel cans, aluminium foil, paint tins and aerosol cans (all empty).
    • Plastic containers and bottles (empty with lids off).

    Remember: do not place your recyclables into plastic bags or boxes – keep you recyclables loose in your recycling bin.

    In Tasmania these items are not accepted in standard council-provided recycling collections:

    • Computers and TVs (e-waste)
    • Gas bottles
    • Hazardous recyclables such as batteries (car or domestic) or compact fluorescent lamps
    • Nappies
    • Paint
    • Plastic bags including plastic bread bags and plastic barrier bags.
    • Polystyrene such as foam packaging
    • Sharps and syringes

    Did you know?

    You may have noticed that not all recyclable plastic containers display the PIC (Plastic Identification Code) triangle – the symbol most of us call the recycling triangle. This is because the triangle and corresponding number are used to indicate what plastic was used to make the container, not whether the container is recyclable. However, all plastic packaging containers can now be recycled as part of the normal kerbside recycling collection service offered by most Tasmanian councils. While soft plastic (including plastic bags and plastic film and wrap) are not accepted in any Tasmanian kerbside recycling collection, most major supermarkets now accept clean, flexible plastic, such as plastic bags, for recycling.

    For larger items or items of a different nature than described here, contact your local council for details of special collection services offered in your area.