Unless you’ve buried your head in the sand or have intentionally made yourself deaf for the past few years, you should already be aware of the effects of climate change and the importance of sustainability. We all need to do our part to help and that includes businesses.
While there are plenty of things companies can do to help the environment, we’re going to focus on only one thing today – reducing the amount of plastic waste we generate. So, how can they do that? Let us count the ways.
#1: Encourage the staff to reduce their plastic waste.
Eco-habits are easier to form when you practice them everywhere, not just at home. Businesses can help reduce the amount of plastic waste generated in the office by asking staff to opt for reusable containers for their food and drinks. Ban plastic straws as well.
If you want to make it even easier for your staff to form this new habit, you can choose to provide them with reusable containers and water bottles. You can also provide them with reusable, washable serveware and the facilities that will allow them to wash these items after use.
#2: Ask suppliers to use less plastic packaging.
Be more responsible about the packaging of your office essentials. The paper for office documents, the grocery delivery for the office pantry, the ink refills for the company printer, and even the milk for the coffee.
Think of all of the purchases made by the office and how many of them come packaged in plastic. Then, talk to your suppliers about how their, and thereby your, plastic consumption can be reduced. For example, you can ask if the ink supplier has a system in place for reusing the bottles. You can request that grocery deliveries be packed in boxes or reusable bags instead of plastic. Even the milk can be delivered in glass bottles instead of plastic. These actions might not seem much, but every effort counts.
#3: Provide unlimited filtered tap water.
Did you know that the world goes through a million single-use plastic bottles a minute? Let’s give you a bit of time to ruminate on that mind-boggling fact. Ok. To help reduce this kind of waste, companies should install filtered water coolers and/or putting a water filter on the tap inside the office’s kitchen. Offering employees free filtered tap water not only promotes the use of reusable water bottles, it’s also a healthier choice.
#4: Use cleaning supplies that are plastic-free.
Today, there are so many eco-friendly and natural choices when it comes to cleaning supplies. Instead of using cleaning wipes that are made of plastic, look for ones that are biodegradable. There are also natural soaps and cleaning solutions available. Companies can also choose to look for products that come in refillable containers, allowing them to reuse the plastic spray bottles and just purchase refills.
#5: Change your own packaging.
For companies that manufacture products, a huge step towards reducing the use of plastic is by choosing ethical, ecological packaging.
There are several options available such as paperboard. This material is not only biodegradable, but also ethically sourced. Companies can get them in a variety of thicknesses, allowing them to choose the proper protection for their product.
Another biodegradable option is food-based or plant-based materials such as PLA or polylactic acid. Companies can have their packaging created by one of the many 3d printing services available online. Or, they can make their own by purchasing their own 3D printer.
#6: Talk to the waste industry.
There’s no doubt that taking out all avoidable plastic waste in your company is a good thing. But it’s also important that you make sure all your efforts are sustainable. What this means is that you need to learn what happens to your waste after it leaves the office. Are the recyclables really getting recycled? Or is your waste contractor unable to deal with them properly?
In addition, talking to your waste contractor can help you better understand how to optimize recycling in the office. One example is segregation. Instead of having a bin for all types of waste, provide your employees with “waste stations” with guides on what waste goes where.
#7: Reduce plastic in the office tea and coffee.
Did you know that there is plastic in tea bags? And what about single-use coffee pods? What about sugar in plastic packets or pots? Now, we’re not saying that you stop allowing your employees to drink tea or coffee in the office. But you can significantly reduce plastic waste and still enjoy these delicious drinks by making better choices.
For example, you can offer loose leaf tea or plastic-free tea bags (there are brands that offer these). You can also opt for sugar in paper packets. Another option is to buy freshly roasted coffee in plastic-free packaging. Or, buy reusable stainless steel coffee pods if your office has a pod machine. Last, but not least, offer ceramic mugs and washable spoons as well as a place where your people can wash them after use.
#8: Set Up a Deposit-Return Scheme
This is something that has been implemented in some European countries to ensure that plastic bottles get recycled. A DRS scheme is when consumers are required to pay a small “deposit” whenever they purchase a plastic product like bottled water. When they return the empty bottle to the business, they get their deposit back. And the company is then able to reuse or recycle the bottle properly.
This kind of scheme was set up in Germany in 2003 which has resulted in 99% of their plastic bottles get recycled. Now, it doesn’t have to be mandated by the government. Any business can set up such a scheme as long as you provide consumers with goods in plastic such as convenience stores and grocery stores.
About the author:
Louisa is a content marketing professional and editor creating her successful career past 2 years at D3D Printing. She is a goal-oriented, creative individual with a unique voice in writing, editing, and optimizing content for various projects. She’s a devoted mom and an excellent piano player.