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Reducing single use plastic in the work place

31 October 2018

It is no secret that single use plastic is the biggest contributor to ocean pollution, with 8 million pieces of plastic entering the ocean every day! So hearing the news that the EU has voted in favour of a ban on single use plastic is no surprise. With Brexit looming it is not clear (if this is to become a law) if the UK will follow. However, there are already measures in place to significantly reduce plastic in the UK by 2025.

Having said this, there is a lot more to be done. With a number of businesses joining the UK Plastic Pact and charities such as Surfers Against Sewage doing all that they can to clean up our  beautiful beaches, it is time for businesses, big and small to start making changes and be more conscious of the environmental footprint they are leaving behind. We want to give you some ideas to help you reduce plastic in the work place and see how you can begin to make small changes, in order to make a big difference.

 

Image result for plastic in the ocean

Water Bottles

The first, and probably most obvious way to quickly reduce plastic is to get rid of plastic bottles. While this may be difficult for particular establishments such a corner shops and cafes, there are still options to at least reduce the amount or incentivise customers to recycle the bottles. In the UK alone, we are using an average of 38.5 million bottles per day, with roughly half being recycled. That leaves 19.25 million bottles making their way to landfill and polluting our oceans. The government have confirmed plans to introduce a deposit return scheme (subject to consultation) where by customers will pay slightly higher prices for drinks in plastic bottles and once the bottle is returned you will receive the extra back, it will then be up to the business to dispose of the plastic in the correct manor. This scheme is something we definitely recommended joining once in place for those establishments that cannot completely get rid of single use plastic bottles while they are still in circulation.

For those who are able to, a great way to incentivise staff to stop using single use plastic bottles is to get branded water bottles for each member of staff. There are a number of branding companies out there who offer this service including the infamous Chilli bottles; the minimum order for branded bottles is 30 so if you have less employees you could give the remainder to your most loyal customers or run a competition on your social channels.

If tap water isn’t to the staffs taste then why not think about getting a water filter? You can pick on up from any supermarket fairly cheaply and although most are made of plastic, it is still a better alternative than having a new water bottle every day.

Soap

Switching the regular liquid soap for a bar of soap is another great way to reduce plastic. Most bar soaps come in cardboard packaging and are also significantly cheaper than alternatives. While this may not be something that everyone is keen on, if you and your business are really serious about significantly reducing plastic use then this is a quick, cost effective alternative.

Hot Drinks

There are many ways to reduce the amount of plastic that you use when making tea and coffee, many that you may not have even crossed your mind. One of which is going old school and ordering milk in glass bottles, this will significantly reduce plastic waste at work and saves someone having to try and remember to go to the shop at the beginning of the week. Office Drop offers a pint of milk for 55p and covers locations all across the UK, however if they don’t cover your area then you could always call your local milk delivery service – don’t forget to recycle the bottles too!

Plastic free tea bags are also a great way to reduce single use plastic. 96% of tea bags contain a plastic called Polypropylene that is put in when the sealing takes place. When you think about how many cups of tea are made in your work place everyday making this small change could really make a difference. There are a variety of plastic free tea bags available at the moment and with plastic reduction on the increase, your favourite brands will no doubt soon have plastic free alternatives.

Encourage Recycling

A great way to ensure you are reducing the amount of plastic being sent to landfill and oceans is to really encourage recycling in the work place. While reducing the amount of plastic use is always the best option sometimes it just can’t be helped. You might want to consider a recycling station where you can clearly display what waste items can and cannot be recycled, a great way to do this is to have separate bins for each type of item that can be recycled. If this is something that your business does not already do, before you introduce it conduct a rubbish audit. This means after a week of collecting all general waste bins, emptying them and seeing exactly how much could have been recycled. Displaying this to staff could really open their eyes as to how many recyclable items are being sent to land fill every week. Although this may be a little messy so we highly recommend getting a pair of rubber gloves.

These are just a few small changes that can be made in order to reduce plastic in the work place, and if staffs see businesses leading by example, they may even start making small changes at home. At the rate the world is using plastic, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish; something that no one wants to see happen. We really encourage all businesses to implement at least one of the ideas or think of your own ways to get your staff and business involved, and don’t forget this is also a great thing to show your customers as more and more people are becoming conscious of the amount of plastic they are using.

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