The fast and unexpected switch to remote work was one of the many immediate effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Now that the dust has settled, Prism Engineering has adopted a hybrid work model, where employees make up their schedule of days working between home and at the office.

To adapt to this new reality, our company has created “hotel stations”, where employees are free to use certain desk spaces on a first come, first serve basis whenever in the office. But when we began the process of resizing our resources library to open space for new acoustic cells for individual meetings, a big question emerged:

What should be the fate of a huge volume of binders, books and project folders that would have to be removed to give room for the office redesign?

“Some were outdated, and others were duplicates, so there wasn’t much to do”, recalls Anusha Hooda, People, Culture and Operations Coordinator at Prism. “We then began discussing a proper way to discard them, especially the binders, which contained cardboard, plastic and metal parts”, she adds.

To find a solution, she got help from Taniell Hamilton, Sustainability and Engagement Specialist at Prism. Together, they put out a waste reduction plan that included the recycling and donation of the material, as well as the digitization of old documents.

To spread the word, they announced the initiative on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist. A total of 350 binders were diverted for reusing, repurposing, or recycling. In addition, half a ton of paper was recycled. For example, some of the binders were donated to families with children, who were invited to come to the Burnaby office to pick up the material. Others were donated to Renfrew Elementary School, located nearby the office. Even the bookshelves found their way: they were given to employees to take home and reuse.

“I am really glad we chose the right way to dispose all those items, reducing our impact on the environment”, says Anusha. “It wasn’t easy, as some of the steps weren’t obvious from the outset, like having to separate the metal spines of books for recycling. But, in the end, it was also a great learning experience”, she adds.