Plastic & Consumables Footprint
Helping Your Business Reduce Plastic & Consumables Waste
When considering their sustainability policy, many businesses are realising the need to consider the wider impact of their waste. Thanks to BBCs Blue Planet 2, plastic waste has been brought to the forefront as people everywhere have been made aware of the devastating impact our plastic pollution can have. Here we provide some tips and advice to help you get started on a waste reduction plan to reduce the amount of single use plastic and other consumables that your business uses:
A great place to start is to measure the amount of waste you produce. Whether you monitoring the bins for the whole year or simply a week, this will help to clarify how much you throw away and the main sources of your plastic waste. Knowing where your problem areas lie is essential to formulating an effective plan.
To help you figure out how far along you are with your plastic waste management, try out our free Business Plastic Calculator:
Once you have identified your most significant areas, then you can consider creating your waste reduction plan.
To help with this you could set up a waste prevention team. Appointing a few passionate employees to work together will help to create structure in your waste reduction plan and enable co-operation and monitoring across your company to ensure the efficiency of your scheme.
Setting aims and targets are useful to measure your progress against and provide quantitative benchmarks to help you easily communicate your success.
When making your plan, remember to take into account external factors, such as what alternatives are available to you and what your local authorities are able to recycle in your area.
When writing your plan and deciding what changes you should put in place, you will need to consider what is suitable and realistic for your business. Your plan should focus on providing choice to your employees and raising awareness of the waste issue so that they can make behavioural changes to reduce their use of single use plastic and other consumables.
Below we have listed a few suggestions of changes you could make around your office:
- Offer reusable alternatives for cups and cutlery instead of single use plastics
- Use refillable printer cartridges or ensure to recycle your single use cartridges
- Offer your employees reusable water bottles and coffee mugs - which can also provide marketing benefits by getting your branding seen
- Create a carrier bag sharing point so that your employees have the option to use one instead of buying new ones whilst they pop to the shop for lunch
- Supply clearly labelled and strategically placed waste and recycling bins
- Consider installing a water filter to replace any bottled water your business purchases for the office
- Consider purchasing goods made out of recycled materials
- Raise awareness to ensure recycling is done effectively and avoids contamination, e.g. that bottles/containers are cleaned before being recycled
- You could try bulk buying large bottles of your cleaning products such as soap and washing up liquid to use in refillable dispensers
- Offer your employees refillable fountain pens to discourage the use of plastic ball point pens
- Try to use suppliers that use less plastic packaging and/or ask those that you use to reduce the amount they use
- Create a scheme to raise awareness and encourage people to make their own lunches rather than buying packaged sandwiches each day to save money and plastic
- Ask clients to contact you via email rather than by post - taking yourself off mailing lists if need be
- Raise awareness and encourage your staff to refuse plastics when out and about for lunch or meetings
- Create a communal scrap paper pile to encourage the use of scrap paper instead of post-it notes
- Investigate the potential to reinvest in plastic/packaging innovations
If your company produces products made and/or packaged with plastic, you should consider examining your options to switch to eco alternatives (such as paper packaging) and/or if you can use the plastic more efficiently, reusing it where possible to reduce your total plastic waste.
Alongside your waste reduction programme, you could think about ways of promoting engagement both internally and externally. Here are a few suggestions as to ways you can achieve this:
You should use any aims and targets that you have set to measure your achievements against.
Repeating your waste audit at strategic intervals will help you monitor your reduction plan as you progress and give you the opportunity to make sure what you are doing works, focus on new areas and adapt your plan if necessary.
Make sure that you fully communicate and celebrate your success, internally and externally, to maintain employee engagement and to let others know about the great work you are doing and encourage them to do the same.
Your plastic waste reduction plan should be used alongside your other areas of sustainability management. A main area for many businesses is their carbon footprint.
Check out our free to download carbon reduction posters.