The reports are in, and the findings are final - our world is drowning in plastic. Despite many green-minded companies attempting to reduce their plastic footprint in recent years, the UK still uses around five million tonnes of plastic every year, most of which by the business community.
From plastic cutlery to promotional material - single-use plastic is embedded into many company cultures. But making the switch to eco-friendly alternatives can be easier than you think. Here are five simple ways you can reduce plastic use in your company.
1. Reduce at Source
The best way to reduce your company’s plastic pollution is simple: don’t use plastic in the first place. Several daily plastics are unnecessarily used and can easily be cut out or swapped, such as plastic cups, plastic water bottles, plastic straws and plastic scissors.
More companies are moving away from plastic cutlery and replacing them with washable and reusable alternatives, or at the very least, using recyclable wooden cutlery.
2. Use Sustainable Suppliers
Making sure your suppliers share similar sustainable values is a great way to cut down on plastic use and waste. Asking for sustainable options from suppliers, such as using post-consumer resin (PCR), can encourage other companies to consider their plastic use and contribute to the overall reduction.
Single-use plastics are by far one of the worst culprits for waste – with most used for an average of just 11 minutes. If a supplier cannot provide PCR or recycled alternatives, there will be another supplier that can.
3. Encourage Staff Behaviour
Creating an environmental policy will help embed a sustainable culture. Your policy should include statements on how you plan to reduce your impact, create sustainable business processes, and monitor your performance.
An environmental policy should also cover staff initiatives and training. Social awareness campaigns are a great way to educate those unaware of all the damage plastic pollution can cause. Providing reusable travel mugs and water bottles can help encourage sustainable behaviour inside and outside the workplace.
4. Review Your Promotional Material
This point may seem an obvious one. Yet many companies still use non-sustainable, single-use plastic promotional materials. For large companies, production numbers on promotional assets can run into the thousands.
Many suppliers now offer eco-alternatives for branded products such as bamboo pens, tote bags, reusable coffee cups and recycled paper notebooks. Not only are they better for the environment, but they also improve your brand reputation by showing your commitment to social causes - a win-win all around.
5. Signpost Recycling Bins
Using recyclable materials and other sustainable alternatives is a little counter-productive if they don’t end up in the right place. Ensure you have plenty of clearly labelled recycling bins around the workplace to limit the amount of material getting into general waste.
A recent survey found that 76% of the UK’s population felt not enough is being done about plastic pollution. The same report saw 86% of UK residents are concerned about disposable or non-recyclable products.
With such a high proportion of the British public feeling strongly about issues surrounding plastic pollution and sustainability, ensuring that your company can reduce its plastic use will not only be beneficial to the environment – but likely to business growth too.