"Yes?" I ask in a surly manner, in response to a summons from the Head of IT.
"Couple of complaints about your not adhering to the new company recycling plan," he says disinterestedly, waving a couple of pieces of paper around in a woop-de-doo manner.
"Gosh really, should I try harder in future?"
"Yes, and I've been asked to ENSURE you're doing your bit," he says, pointing to an underlined paragraph at the bottom of one of the sheets.
"Absolutely devoted to it!" I respond, "In fact I'm so devoted, how about I recycle those bits of paper for you?"
"Excellent. That's my part done!" he replies
"RIGHT, THAT'S BLOODY IT!" someone behind me yells angrily. "You're not even taking this seriously!"
The head and I both turn in shock to find a greeny - disguised as a normal human being - behind us. In fact, he might even work on the Helldesk. Spies everywhere....
"Taking what seriously?"
"The company's recycling plan!"
"What recycling plan. I've not heard of any recycling plan?"
"There was a memo on it two weeks ago!"
"Oh I probably put it in the bin. Waste of paper - I read them online"
"You're supposed to put old paper in the paper recycling box!!"
"Those cardboard boxes with Paper Recycling - Paper Only on them?"
"Well I folded them all up and put them in a paper recycling box."
"Then I chucked them in the bin."
"Yeah, the skip that we ordered last week to get rid of all those toner cartridges."
"YOU THREW OUT TONER CARTRIDGES!?"
"THEY CAN BE RECYCLED!"
"They ARE recycled. They go to an artist in Leeds who uses them in his work."
"Yes, he works in Landfill."
"THAT'S NOT BLOODY ART!"
"I think he'd disagree with you. Anyway, it's truly amazing. He's got a technique he calls Haphazard Arrangement of Still Life - it's very arty. I can probably get you photographs if you want."
"Nggggg," he fizzes, then stalks off.
"He's gone to tell, you know,"The Head mentions.
"Yes," I sigh.
. . .
Two days later it's big-greeny-meeting at IT time.
And Pandora's box creaks open...
"As you know," the Company's newly appointed Recycling Officer (i.e. mate of the CEO who needs a job) burbles. "There are significant advantages to recycling used products."
"What were they again?" The PFY asks.
"The Company pays less for its refuse removal, Cheaper prices when we buy recycled products, and more importantly we can SELL some of it. Not to mention the benefits to the environment."
"Sorry, we can SELL something?" The Head asks.
"Yes!" The Recycling Officer answers. "For instance, I read in a brochure I received this morning that there's a Cartridge Recycling Company in South London that offers as much as 5 pounds for an old toner cartridge suitable for recycling - depending on model, etc. And they sell reconditioned ones at very reasonable prices."
"Five quid each," the Head mumbles. "And how many have we thrown away over the past year?"
"In this building, probably two or three hundred," The PFY responds.
In a flash, the minds of around thirty people turn to where their future drinks money will be coming from.
"Why is it that the systems people do the toner cartridge replacements anyway?" one Helldesk person asks. "Surely it would be better with us, where we could deal with them as soon as a call is logged?"
"Sounds like a good idea to me," I agree, surprising a few people. (Let's face it - on the potatos scale, it doesn't even rate as 'small')
"And paper, is that worth anything?" someone else asks - purely out of company interest of course.
"Only by the ton, and then when delivered to the point of recycling."
"And what's that worth?" the questioner continues, no doubt formulating a plan involving a vacant office, the company van, etc.
A week later I'm stopped at lunch by a beancounter with a worried attitude.
"Those bloody recycled toner cartridges don't seem to last very long!" he blurts "Though the helpdesk people are a lot better at replacing them than you were. Still, they don't seem to be the bargain we first thought."
"Don't tell me - we're going through a pantload of recycled paper too?"
"As it happens, yes. There must be some glitch in the system as almost every printer in the place is printing out the annual report. AND No-one's collecting them!!!"
..Back in Mission Control..
"I predict," I say to the PFY "that by the end of next week the Helldesk people will realise that a NEW toner cartridge looks much the same as an empty cartridge in need of recycling...."
"And that a ream of Xerox paper out of its wrapper looks much the same as a ream of used paper - when it's in the middle of a ton of paper in the back of a van, late at night?"
"So what should be do - tell the Boss?"
"Actually I was thinking of: A. Taking on a new person at my Cartridge recycling centre - and maybe relocate it a little nearer to here than South London, B. Be more careful not to get caught about swapping half used toner cartridges for newly installed ones, and C. Get into the paper recycling business now that it's commercially viable."
"And where do I fit in?"
"Underneath a ton of Xerox paper if you don't keep your mouth shut?"
It's only because I care about the environment you understand... ®