5 Ways for Organisations to Beat Plastic Pollution
By John Dillon, VP Marketing, Superfy, 31 July 2023
Plastic is all around us – from the day-to-day products that we use in our lives to the microplastics that unfortunately plague our oceans, and the war against plastic continues. Although we all have contributed to plastic pollution at some point in our lives, a big responsibility lies with organisations to tackle their plastic pollution as a whole, to create a more sustainable environment and way of working for itself, and for the employees within its four walls!
World Environment Day 2023was a global effort to #BeatPlasticPollution, and a reminder that “people’s actions on plastic pollution matters. The steps governments and businesses are taking to tackle plastic pollution are the consequence of this action. It is time to accelerate this action and transition to a circular economy”. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, circularity is a critical to plastic recycling solutions. “Science shows that by shifting the plastics economy to a comprehensive circular economy approach, most plastic pollution could be prevented.”
What initial steps can organisations take to solve the plastic crisis?
#1 Reduce the amount of plastic you currently have within your organisation
Depending on what type of organisation you run, the amount of plastic that you have circulating will vary. For example, if you’re a product-based business over a service-based one, you’re naturally going to accumulate more plastic across all departments. From the plastic in or protecting your products to general supplies used by employees, product-based businesses will have to make more of a conscious effort to reduce the amount of plastic that they currently have within their organisation.
Some great (and quick) options that will in the long-term be more cost-effective are as follows:
Kitchen utensils and equipment
Depending on how functional your kitchen is – as well as how much it’s used – some obvious changes can be made to ensure that utensils and cutlery aren’t plastic.
Stationary and storage
Reviewing how you store (as well as what can be transferred to be paperless) is an easy change that you can make. For example, reducing the need for documents to be physically signed (and instead transferred online) or invoices to be processed online eliminates the need for pens, plastic sleeves, and other smaller single-use plastics.
#2 If plastic is a necessity, implement plastic that is circular
We cannot escape plastic, it’s unfortunately present in most things (and products) because, for the most part, it’s a practical material that is versatile and can last for a very long time. Its benefit is unfortunately its downfall. However, if there are certain things in your organisation that must be plastic, implement plastic that is circular (able to be recycled or reused multiple times).
For example, if you would rather not have glasses for employees due to health and safety reasons, buy high-quality plastic cups that can be consistently reduced, and bonus points if they’re already made from recycled materials!
Equally, if you’re a product-based business and your product contains plastic (or the main component is plastic) – is it circular? Can you make it circular? These are all small changes to consider which can make a huge impact.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme, “a life-cycle approach to plastics considers the impacts of all the activities and outcomes associated with the production and consumption of plastic materials, products and services – from raw material extraction and processing (refining, cracking, polymerization) to design, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, use (and reuse), maintenance and end of life management, including segregation, collection, sorting, recycling and disposal.”
#3 Encourage and model sustainable behaviours
Change isn’t going to happen overnight, and a big part of change is ensuring that the right behaviours are adopted to complement the physical changes you’ve made in your organisation.
Let’s look at water consumption by employees and how you can encourage employees to look at this in a circular way. Instead of buying bottles of water – gift each employee on their first day a reusable bottle or even a reusable flask that can be used for hot and cold drinks.
Educate employees on your recycling programme and embed these behaviours and mantras into your day-to-day values – and you’ll slowly start seeing them being echoed by those within the four walls of your organisation.
#4 Ban single-use plastic
Making it part of your policy and banning single-use plastics across your whole organisation can be an excellent way of encouraging a circular mindset as well as drastically reducing the amount of plastic you’ll be processing.
Informing employees on their first day of your single use plastic policy and ensuring that each department (particularly those who may order stock or supplies into the building) is compliant will ensure that you are single-use plastic-free.
Of course, there will be some circumstances where single-use plastic is inevitable. However, this must be assessed on a case-by-case basis with strict rules in place to ensure that for the vast majority of the time, single-use plastic does not enter your premises.
#5 Buy in bulk
Again, you cannot escape plastic, it’s something that is probably always going to be a part of our lives. But, another small but impactful change you can make is buying in bulk to reduce the amount of plastic (and waste overall) that you incur. Whether it’s necessities for the office, something for an incentive or initiative, or even things for a corporate event – bulk is better.
AtSuperfy, we are proud to support this campaign with practical solutions that increase the operational efficiency of plastic recycling organisations. Learn more about our soft plastic recycling solutions here.
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