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Waste watchers work overtime

For many of us, it is now about as habitual an act as buckling our seatbelts: We put our bottles, cans, and old papers into receptacles that are kept separate from the trash.

At work, most adults no longer need any prodding to dump waste paper into the little bins beneath their desks.

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But what happens next is not always as tidy as a walk to the curb or a ride to the dump.

Recycling in the workplace is a process that involves corner-office policymakers, in-house waste managers, teams of after-hours cleaners on contract, and big off-site recycling facilities.

And along that complex chain, there can be a gap between good intentions and execution.

Sometimes it's quite benign.

Disclosure: The genesis of this week's lead story resulted from concern recently among some staffers at this paper after they learned about a suspension of some recycling practices here.

A renovation project had, by last winter, made key dock space unavailable for the dumpsters once used for sorting recyclables.

A memo, issued in response to earlier employee questions about recycling, had made that clear. It also pointed out that waste paper - a major concern at a newspaper - is still collected and compacted. (Much of it is said to be plucked from the waste stream at an off-site facility.)

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Our recycling bins were not a ruse, even though circumstances had temporaily limited their effectiveness. Recycling should be fully reinstated in a year or two.

The episode made clear that many individuals now carry their at-home devotion to recycling to work - where full-on recycling can't just be taken for granted.

Where does your office stand?

Reach us at work@csps.com.