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Lizzie wrote to me recently and asked for tips on making her workplace a zero waste zone.
Of course, it depends on the size of your company as to what is feasible. But many ideas can be scaled up from a one-person company working from home to a multi national corporation.
- Make sure all printers are set to print on both sides to halve your paper consumption. Set printers to work on draft quality too. And why not turn printers off one day a week – it will really force staff to consider whether they need to print at all!
- Remove individual staff bins and replace with a recycling area. This helps raise awareness about what can be recycled at work, starts a conversation and reduces the convenience of throwing something away.
- Purchase items in bulk to reduce packaging.
- Choose your waste company carefully. Some organisations such as this Perth waste management company specialise in reducing waste to landfill by diverting items to various recycling streams. This provides a cost effective solution for you to manage your recyclable waste and comply with regulations and legislation.
- Select recycled content items, such as paper, to close the loop and promote the circular economy – we can only expect to see more sustainable products if we create demand for them.
- Swapping is the new shopping: Every quarter run an office clothes swap (or books, or dvds!) – this can be really popular close to Christmas as a form of zero waste ‘shopping’ or to find that elusive secret Santa gift!
- Organise a repair cafe – it’s a fantastic way to learn new skills, increase staff morale and keep things out of landfill.
- Take a look at restaurant waste – can you compost more, reduce the amount of plastic cutlery and packaging you use or reduce food waste? If you don’t have a staff restaurant, challenge staff to hold a ‘pot luck’ lunch once a week where they bring in food to share from home that they might not otherwise use up in time.
- Look for recycling avenues for difficult-to-handle waste streams such as latex lab gloves or coffee-maker pods. Check out Terracycle for information.
- Reuse packaging from items you receive in the post and re-use it for outgoing mail.
- Hold a no-questions-asked amnesty for return of uniforms or stationery.
- Have an internal list on your intranet to share items that are no longer wanted but may be used elsewhere.
- Donate unwanted furniture and equipment to charity. It’s a wonderful way to give new life to things you no longer want and can be used as a good story for local press.
- Install a carrier bag reuse station that staff can use when they go out to buy lunch. Each person can use a bag then return it after use – it’s a brilliant way to reduce the number of carrier bags we use.
- Start a ‘1 mug per day’ policy! Staff can use one mug each day, refill it during the day then return to the dishwasher.
Start small and work your way up to the big goals! Even very small changes can make a big difference and once you get your staff motivated, you can keep setting your goals higher and higher. Try to find things that resonate with a particular group of staff and that they can then take ownership of.
Engage with staff; involve them in the process and make it fun! Work out what waste you produce, focus on these priority streams and target the areas with the largest impact. Report back on progress to keep everyone involved.
What about you – What do you do to make your business less wasteful?