How businesses can get involved with Plastic Free July
13th July 2023
The UK uses a whopping five million tonnes of plastic each year, much of which is disposable. Despite many single-use plastics having a useable lifespan which lasts a matter of minutes, it can take hundreds of years for these items to degrade in landfill, being particularly problematic for the environment.
This month marks Plastic Free July – a global movement that encourages people to reduce their use of plastic, promoting cleaner streets, oceans, and communities. The campaign encourages businesses to act too. Beyond positive environmental impacts, reducing the amount of plastic in your business can bring many other benefits. For instance, choosing plastic free alternatives can help give you a competitive edge by positioning your business as being more sustainable. Research suggests sustainability is an increasingly important element of consumer’s purchasing decisions.
Plastic free July offers the perfect opportunity for your business to focus on plastic reduction and adopt practices which can be beneficial to your business now and in the long-term. Here are five ways you can reduce plastic waste in your business throughout July and beyond.
The first step to making any initiative successful is to ensure your staff are on board. Share your goal to reduce the amount of plastic in the workplace with your staff, highlighting why it is important. You could organise a plastic free coffee morning, to raise awareness and start the conversation. Share ‘quick win’ initiatives such as asking staff to bring in their own mug, reusable coffee cup or water bottle and carry lunch in reusable containers. Encourage your staff to share ideas with each other on how to reduce plastic to help foster behaviour change in the workplace.
It can be challenging to encourage behaviour change, so consistent communication is key. Display signs which share relevant messages and informative content. For example, posters can remind people to bring their own reusable alternatives. Also displaying signs next to your recycling bins can help staff and customers to understand what waste should go into what bin to avoid recyclable plastic ending up in the general waste bin. The easier you make it for people to understand what they should do, the more likely they are to align their behaviour with the business goals.
Evaluate your supply chain to uncover areas where plastic is being procured unnecessarily. Could plastic packaging be replaced with cardboard packaging or another more sustainable material? Using recycled content in packaging reduces the demand for virgin plastic derived from oil. Changing to plastic free alternatives sooner rather than later will also help keep your business abreast of upcoming changes. From October 2023, new legislation will come into force whereby businesses will no longer be able to supply, sell or offer certain single-use plastic items in England.
If your business uses plastics that can’t be avoided, recycle as much as you can by having separate bins for plastic recycling and ensuring recyclable waste isn’t being mixed with general waste. The recycling bins should be placed in high-footfall areas where your staff or customers are likely to produce plastic waste, such as the kitchen or dining area. Waste management companies such as SUEZ recycling and recovery UK can recycle the plastic waste your business generates to ensure you minimise your impact on the environment.
Conduct a waste audit
A waste audit allows you to take stock of what waste your business generates and areas where you could reduce waste. This is a great way to understand the plastic waste you are creating and discover if there are more effective ways of managing your commercial waste. If you’re not sure where to start, check out our blog, What is a waste management audit and how does it work?.
We’d love to hear if you have any tips to reduce plastic in your business – share them in the comments below!Tweet