Plastic has become a serious environmental issue for the world. In the UK alone, we use around 275,000 tonnes of single-use plastics every day.
In the past few years, reducing plastic has become a high priority. The danger it presents to wildlife, as well as the amount of time it takes to decompose, means it simply isn’t viable to keep consuming plastic in the way we do.
Fortunately, you can contribute to the battle against excess plastic use and reduce tonnes of plastic waste, simply by making a few changes in the way you run your business. No matter what type of workspace you own, you can make changes to limit single-use plastics in your operations.
Here’s how to cut down plastic waste and make your business more sustainable.
Assess your business’s plastic use
The first step you need to take if you want to reduce plastic use is carry out a full audit of where you have single-use plastics in your business. This information is key in tackling the issue, as you can’t eliminate plastics that you don’t know are there.
Think of all the areas where single-use plastic might be lurking. It will most likely be in physical workspaces, such as your offices or warehouses, but it could also be in your supply chain.
Survey your staff on where they think you can reduce plastic, as they might think of other areas you hadn’t considered. Including them can also help to show how seriously you’re taking it, encouraging them to reconsider their plastic use.
Once you’ve worked out where plastic might be, you can start reducing and replacing specific products.
Provide plastic-free tea, coffee, cutlery and soap in your kitchens and bathrooms
Workplace kitchens and bathrooms are two of the most likely places where you’ll have single-use plastics. Disposable cutlery and single-use soap dispensers mean you can end up throwing tonnes of plastic in the bin every year.
There may even be plastic here without you having realised. For example, many teabags actually have a plastic “skeleton” in them, meaning they’re not biodegradable. Asda, Co-op, Lidl, and Tesco own-brand tea bags all contain plastic, and even brands such as Tetley and Yorkshire Tea do too.
And, while most instant coffee comes in glass jars, coffee machine pods are often made from unrecyclable plastics.
Fortunately, these are easy to swap out for plastic-free alternatives. Brands such as PG Tips, Teapigs and Twinings all produce entirely plastic-free and biodegradable products. There are coffee machine brands such as Nespresso and Nescafe that now produce biodegradable pods or offer a recycling service, too.
Similarly, there are plenty of plastic-free cutlery options available, as well as refillable soap dispensers or hand soaps that can help you cut down plastic waste in your workspaces.
Provide long-lasting alternatives for your staff
Your staff’s plastic use in your workplaces is essentially just as much your issue as it is theirs. That’s why it can be useful for you to provide long-lasting alternatives to their single-use plastics.
Distribute reusable water bottles to your staff to discourage them from buying bottled water. In the UK, we use 38.5 million bottles a day, with an estimated 16 million of them going straight into landfill. By providing reusable bottles, you can reduce the number that your business contributes.
UK residents consume more than three million packaged sandwiches every day too, most of which have a plastic film that can’t be recycled. To limit your impact here, you could give out lunchboxes and encourage staff to bring lunch from home.
You could even add your company logo to the bottles and lunchboxes for some extra brand awareness.
Use sustainable, plastic alternatives in your packaging
Many high-profile companies in the UK have now switched from plastic packaging to paper or compostable alternatives, reducing the amount of waste consumed when they ship their products.
You may not have packaging needs, especially if your business is information based. But, if you do, look at solutions where you can replace plastic with corn-starched based plastic alternatives or paper.
These alternatives are compostable, meaning they won’t spend years releasing dangerous greenhouse gases in landfill. However, bear in mind that they can be more expensive, so make sure you can afford to make the switch.
Have dedicated recycling bins – and make sure everyone knows which is which
While it’s possible to reduce plastic, it may be almost impossible to remove it entirely. That’s why you should give yourself and your staff access to specific plastic recycling bins for when you simply can’t avoid it.
More importantly, make sure everyone knows which bin is for what kind of waste. Put signs next to the bins so no one has an excuse for using the wrong one.
As part of this, you need to make sure that any plastics you and your staff do buy are recyclable. This list from SL Recycling tells you exactly which types of plastic you can recycle so any plastics you do have in your workplace can be given a second life.
Work with sustainable suppliers
You may have worked tirelessly to eliminate plastic from your own business, but what about your suppliers and distributors?
Even if you combined all of the steps above in your business, your efforts would essentially go to waste if you then worked with suppliers and distributors who don’t share your sustainable goals.
Speak to the people you work with and see whether you can convince them to take the same steps you have. If they don’t want to, consider working with suppliers who do prioritise sustainability – after all, it’s a serious environmental issue.
Want to make the most of your business?
If you’d like to find out other ways to make your business run even more smoothly, please contact us at Cordiner Wealth.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0113 262 1242 to get in touch.