1st July marks the beginning of Plastic Free July month, and everyone is encouraged to take steps on reducing their plastic waste, but for businesses it isn’t always that easy.
Reducing plastic waste is not only great for the environment, but it is also very good for positive business practices and Corporate Social Responsibility. There is now more than ever more a greater emphasis upon businesses becoming more ethical and creating sustainable environments, this is not only internal to the organisation but also includes the wider community.
We already know that there are many different ways that you as an individual could do to reduce your plastic waste, but we know that the greater the contribution, the bigger the impact. This post is about highlighting ways that HR professionals can actively encourage the whole workplace and get everyone involved to reduce plastic waste.
Encourage positive eco-habits in the workplace
Think, could you, your employees and colleagues do more to reduce their plastic usage? Some organisations have supplied their employees with reusable branded water bottles and coffee cups to support less plastic, however if people are not aware of how much plastic they actually use, it may be worth highlighting what they should be looking for. Encourage employees to bring in reusable water bottles and bring lunches in reusable containers rather than using clingfilm. You could possibly offer incentives to encourage involvement, such as entry into a monthly prize draw to anyone who posts photos of their efforts on your social media site.
Ask suppliers to use plastic-free packaging
Amazon are a company that constantly reviews their packaging to make it more environmentally friendly. All organisations have the ability to do this, including having discussions with their suppliers, so pehaps begin by considering what your workplace regularly orders in. Stationery, for example, can be heavily packaged and many items are made mainly of plastic. Could you source alternative products that contain less plastic or use less packaging? Speak to existing suppliers and find out if they offer alternatives to plastic packaging.
Refresh your water coolers
The water cooler is a main feature of many offices, employees need fresh drinking water throughout the day to keep hydrated and remain productive. To encourage employees to use fewer single-use plastics, invest in water coolers in your workplace and ask that they bring in reusable bottles from home to fill up as and when needed. Not only does it help the environment, it also helps employees to monitor their water intake each day – win win!
Have a kitchen sort out
Have a good rummage through the staff room cupboards, you would be surprised at how many single-use plastics that are lurking! Bin liners, straws, plastic bags, plastic cutlery… the list can be endless. Many local councils offer centralised soft plastic recycling points: consider having a plastic purge in the office and dispose of all the single-use plastics and arranging for them to be recycled. Replace them with ceramic crockery, steel cutlery and compostable bin liners. It’s the little changes that make a big difference.
It’s easy for everyone to forget to bring their own reusable bags or to pop their rubbish in the correct recycling bin. Reminders placed around the workplace can help to change traditional habits. Creating posters to remind others to do their bit and placing them in prominant areas can help create healthier habits all round. Additonally, maybe havign a few bags for life in the office can also help those who may have forgotten, plus they’re saving 15p each time!
Switch up your cuppa
Consider switching to plastic-free tea bags and replace single use plastic cups with ceramic mugs, this will help make your tea breaks more eco-friendly. For an even greater impact, swap your plastic milk cartons for glass milk bottles, you could get these from a local milk delivery service.
Many workplaces have separate recycling bins for paper waste, but few have similar receptacles for plastic waste. See what collections are available locally from your local council and see if it is worth investing in some separate recycling points around the office and in the kitchen area.