Reduce your plastic waste in the workplace
As an entire community across the world, our plastic use is that of a shock. We are stuck in the habit of buying products from our local supermarket, or getting deliveries that are stacked up in plastics, then simply disposing of them into our bins to be thrown into landfill or melted down.

Did you know that over half of the worlds plastic thrown out was made up of single use plastic packaging? Barbaric isn’t it!

There are many ways all of us can reduce our plastic usage, however businesses are the ones who struggle the most. This is because they don’t have the fullest of control over everything that happens. For example the deliveries that come to their offices, or the equipment they need to buy which is ultimately made of plastic. Many of them are very confused on how to reduce their plastic usage and change their recycling habits.

Below are some of the easiest and effective ways to reduce your plastic waste today within the workplace.

1- Place a ban on single use water bottles

Reduce use of single use plastic bottlesAs simple as this idea may sound, it can easily make the biggest impact. Since last year, over 7.7 billion single use water bottles have been used and thrown away in the UK. Think about how many bottles you would then find in our landfill sites (which take over 1000 years to biodegrade) or waiting to be melted down- both contributing massively to pollution levels.

Banning single use water bottles such as the coke or Lucozade ones from your workplace, will encourage your staff to buy a one off water bottle that can be used every single day. Not only will this benefit the staff- as they’ll be drinking less fizzy and sugary drinks, but it will also decrease how many plastic bottles you dispose of every month, which is likely a lot higher than you think.

To motivate your staff to stop buying single use bottles, you can work out the average amount spent on buying a single use drink everyday, to annually. Then, provide them with the results. I’m sure after they see how much money they will be saving, they will quickly comply.

2- Provide a water cooler

An additional way to reduce the use of single use water bottles would be to install a water cooler This would be extremely beneficial to your company as it would eliminate the need to bring a bottle of water to the workplace at all. You can easily recycle the water filters on the inside to keep everything staying fresh.

Similarly, you could purchase some drinking glasses for your staff to use and refill throughout the day, then place them into the washer at the end of the day- easy!

3- Provide incentives

Sticking on the theme of encouraging your staff, a good point is to create company incentives. An incentive is placed to motivate your staff into doing something. These can be in the form of a competition with a prize for example.

To bring the team working together even more, you could ask your staff to each devise their own incentive challenge every month, so everyone gets a moment to be a little fun and creative! As an extra incentive to really get the creative juices flowing, you could suggest that the person with the best and most impactful incentive could get a free lunch or an earlier leave from a work day… that’ll get the team working!

You can similarly use prizes like that for winning the incentive. For example, if you had to have the lowest plastic use out of the whole team as the competition, the winner could get a similar prize.

4- Conduct a waste audit

Conduct a waste audit in the workplaceA somewhat messier, but equally as beneficial task, would be to conduct a waste audit. This is where you get out those rubber gloves and go through your rubbish. This is a brilliant reality check as such, as you and your team will be able to see the physical amount of plastic waste you produce, and which areas you need to focus on to reduce.

For example, if there is a handful of plastic forks however an entire bin full of delivery plastic, you know where your time needs to be devoted to first. Tackling the main source of the problem first will allow you to see a dramatic change quickly, which will only motivate you to do more.

5- Request that your suppliers use less plastic packaging

Continuing from the example in the point before, if you find that your company does receive far too much plastic within your deliveries, then a good way to go about this would be to request for them to use as little as they can.
What many companies do not realise is that the client (us) accepting these deliveries, have a lot more say in the delivery process than we think. Therefore, asking for changes or help, isn’t that out of the ordinary so should not be something you are afraid to approach them with.

All you would have to produce is a simple, kindly worded letter (as we want to maintain a positive relationship) explaining your objectives to cut your business’ plastic footprint and how less plastic in the deliveries would be extremely beneficial to reach this. You could progress onto adding guidelines on how you would prefer to receive deliveries in the future, and explain how this change can be positive for both parties as it would be a huge decrease in plastic and plastic wastage costs.

It seems like a simple process however does take a little push of confidence to achieve, as you don’t want to lose your main source of receiving your resources- but it will all work out beneficial in the end.

6- Bring in homemade lunches instead of buying them

Reduce plastic waste and pack a work lunchIt is not only your beverages that produce a lot of plastic waste, but your food does too. If you think about it this way: over a week you brought a salad stored in a plastic container with a plastic utensil accompanying it. That would make 5 containers and 5 forks, then over a month you would have nearly a tower full. 

Those figures are only coming from one person – imagine if everyone in your office did the exact same thing, you would be able to build a new office out of plastic boxes after the first year.

Simply purchasing a lunchbox and bringing in a sandwich and snacks (hopefully with as little packaging as possible) then this would be reducing waste massively. It is hard to bring in food that isn’t pre-packaged in plastic for safety and freshness, but simply reducing the amount you eat these would still make a difference.

If you find purchasing lunch easier for yourself due to time limitations, then make your lunches the night before, or prepare your meals for the entire week. This could be rice or pasta or even salads that will stay fresh in your fridge over the course of the week. You will realise how much money you are saving by not spending money on lunch everyday.

7- Swap out all disposable items for reusable ones

Now that your staff have complied to the plastic rules and are reducing their contribution to plastic in workplace, it is time to tackle the office/business space. If you find that you have single use plastic cups, utensils, straws or plates within your place of work, then you simply have to go to your local home goods store and purchase a few dinner plates, glass cups, paper straws and metal cutlery. 

It may not seem like a big deal, but anything with a reusable quality will help you in your plot to reduce your plastic usage. This will also make eating at work a little bit nicer- as a dinner plate and proper utensils is always cleaner than the plastic ones. For example, reusable water filters are an amazing way to have cleaner water without having to constantly buy new, or change water supplier.

It will also save you a lot of money as a company too- as  plastic knives and forks are prone to snapping rather easily. So, by purchasing good quality cutlery, along with lasting longer, you can reduce the amount of plastic waste that is created in the workplace. 

8- Share your successes to inspire others  Share your plastic free tips with colleagues

A brilliant way to celebrate your successes and motivate other companies to make a change is to write a post or photograph your beneficial difference and post them onto your company websites or social media. This will not only make it visible to your team how amazing they have been, but you will be showing everyone else how easy it is to achieve a change.

To conduct this, you should start at the very beginning, by measuring your plastic usage before you have made any changes at all. Then, make a regiment or list on all the changes you are going to make, when you are going to put them into action and how you will go about doing it- notifying all of the variables. 

Then, after a significant amount of time, measure your plastic usage again. It will more than likely be a dramatic difference which is perfect to show as many people as possible. You could even share how much money your team, company and yourself are all saving since reducing plastic usage- think of it like a huge incentive for all of your followers online, to motivate them to do the same as you and reap all the same benefits after. 

As well as this, sharing your plastic free successes in the workplace can make your company seem more attractive to a certain group of people. In society today many people refuse to use the brands of business’ that partake in animal cruelty, child labour or an excessive plastic use, as they really disagree with the morals of that company and want a better environment, and working or buying with those companies is only contributing to it. So, changing to a more eco-friendly routine will make you appeal to a wider audience and ultimately drive up traffic and clientele (depending on what sort of business you are).

The benefits of a reducing plastic in the workplace are endless. You are not only helping yourself, but the environment too, and everyone wants to live in a happy and healthier environment. It’s not about achieving a zero waste production as that is somewhat impossible for a single company, but as big of a decrease as possible within the workplace, will create a massive difference.