As we embark on a new year and new decade, nothing is more topical and important than how we can reduce our impact on the environment personally and at work. On average, the office worker generates a substantial amount of waste including 10,000 sheets of office paper and 500 disposable coffee cups every year.* Every single person in your business has an obligation and a
responsibility to protect the future of our planet so now is the time to adopt greener practices at work.
To help your business and employees reduce their single-use plastic dependency, there are some easy steps to take to prevent further pollution in our seas and on our beaches:
• Ditch the disposable plastic cups and provide reusable cups and mugs
• Provide water coolers and glasses and encourage employees to use a refillable bottle.
You could even charge anyone using a single-use plastic bottle a nominal fee and donate the money to a green charity
• Buy ethically sourced, recycled, biodegradable, compostable and sustainable office products.
There are a wide choice of alternative products available and these are clearly highlighted throughout the Office VIBES®magazine
• Set up a compostable system for food leftovers from your kitchen or canteen
• Remove individual waste bins from desks and provide a centralised recycling point that will encourage everyoneto be more responsible
Speak to your suppliers and discuss the best stationery,kitchen and bathroom products that will help reduce your impact in terms of raw materials, manufacturing processes and packaging. Packaging is a major contributor to unnecessary waste as products need protecting. Many innovative manufacturers have introduced smart recycled, recyclable or biodegradable packaging to make their products more sustainable and buying in bulk or larger packs will ensure that you reduce the amount of surplus waste.
In a bid to limit plastic usage, the government has introduced new controls on single use plastic items – straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds – from April 2020. If you work in an office or a shop, the requirements are fairly simple to follow such as responsible disposal of waste and will more than likely be led by your local authority. If you work in sectors that deal with chemicals or agriculture as examples, there will be far more stringent controls and regulations to control potential environmental risks. Reducing the environmental impact of your business isn’t simply a question of meeting your legal obligations, it is the right thing to do and offers many business benefits including improving your reputation, reducing costs and meeting your ethical responsibilities. There are many management companies who will be able to conduct a review of your business practices, who will evaluate your energy, raw materials and water usage, advise on
waste best practice and make recommendations on your supply chain. Without a doubt, there will be more government legislation to follow that will have a more direct impact on your working practices so implement green practices at work now and you know your business is leading the way, not being behind the times.
Travel may well be a perk of the job but these days, it is one that is disapproved of. According to the Carbon Trust, three-quarters of employees want to work for a business that is taking steps to reduce its carbon emissions. Many celebrities have been criticised in the press recently for their fuel guzzling travel footprint with pressure from the public to reduce it. The most obvious solution is encourage employees to walk or cycle to work, it’s good for their health too, but in the real world this isn’t always achievable and low-emission cars can be expensive. Many employees won’t realise their impact so put it in real terms – on the 544-mile journey from Londonto Aberdeen, a typical train might produce 44 kilograms of carbon dioxide per person, a car 83kg and a plane 130kg, assuming average occupancy rates.** Simple to understand examples may encourage people to use public transport or set up car pooling. Other easy to implement solutions are cutting out all-but-essential flights and replacing meetings with video conferencing (it will save you a fortune) and introducing a work from home policy if applicable. A reputation for being environmentally responsible can be a key differentiator against your competitors but more importantly doing your bit will deliver real business benefits and ensure that everyone who works for you feels part of a responsible business. It will take some effort and commitment to employ long-term policies but it will be worth it for the next generation, your customers, employees and your reputation.
Sources: *lessplastic.org.uk | **lawdonut.co.uk