As the plastic crisis is gaining momentum governments and businesses are collaborating for implementing immediate action. How can your workplace participate in the battle against plastic waste?
Plastic pollution has a huge negative impact on our oceans, soils, food chain and public health. We are producing over 300 million tons of plastic and it is estimated that 8 million tons end up in the ocean each year. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans.
Shift from the “throw-away culture”
Organisations need to act now, raise the awareness of this looming issue and shift mindset from the “throw-away culture” to the 4Rs mindset – Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
This means refusing disposable plastic, reducing usage of products with excessive plastic packaging, relying on reusable alternatives to plastic and recycling whatever plastic that couldn’t be refused.
To support individuals to reduce their plastic, companies should start with their supply chain to bring in alternatives to plastic where possible. Telling people not to use plastic bottles does not work unless you give them an easy alternative.
As companies reduce plastic they should drive awareness of these changes which will in turn encourage individuals to reduce their own plastic footprint and implement 4Rs in their daily life.
Changing to a Plastic Free Workplace
Know your Plastic
Carry out a plastic audit to identify your main uses of plastic. Target the single use plastic and the highest volume of plastic first. Determine alternatives to these products by working with your supply chain.
Place signs and reusable alternatives
It is a good idea to raise awareness and place signs on how to avoid the usage of plastic with reminders about reusable bags, cups, straws etc. Apart from reminders employees can be offered reusable cups and bottles as well as reusable bags to avoid single use plastic alternatives. Replacing bottled water with a water refill station can also be a way to go. This will allow quick action with a major impact. Remember to measure before and after plastic usage so you can communicate your success.
Create an office challenge
Why not engage your colleagues in the fight against plastic? Office challenges can be both encouraging and fun. As part of a Global Environmental campaign at ISS, employees were given environmentally friendly bags to collect plastic whilst enjoying the outdoors, they brought the items back to the office to see what a collective effort could lead to. Another campaign for World Environment Day was the ISS Zero Waste Challenge which led to thousands colleagues and customers pledging to remove single use plastic for the day. There are many examples of good challenges, you just need to start somewhere.
Use the correct recycling bins and give guidance
Most of us are familiar with recycling waste and separating the trash into appropriate categories, but recycling bins are often contaminated with regular waste which means not as much can be recycled. By providing the correct recycling bins and clear signage as to what goes where it enables a greater amount of recycling. Even though it is preferred that the waste isn’t created in the first place, recycling is an important part of reducing plastic waste.