Every year, we produce 320 million tonnes of plastic – the equivalent weight of every human on the planet, and 40% of this is for single-use items used once and then thrown away, polluting the environment for centuries.
Meanwhile, each year, more than 8 million tonnes of plastic flows into the ocean (mostly from land sources), equating to a truckload of trash every minute! This massive increase in plastic consumption has a huge price tag, both in terms of the environment and human health.
But as a business owner, you have the power in your hands to make a difference, and with some small changes, you can be on your way to eradicating plastic waste from your business altogether. Read on to learn more.
Carry Out A Plastic Audit
A great way to start moving away from plastic in your business is by completing a plastic audit. This assessment will help you discover where your single-use plastic items are in your business; make sure to write this all down or add it into a spreadsheet.
Remember to add even the smallest pieces of plastics you use. Does your packaging arrive on a wooden palette but wrapped in plastic? Are you or your employees a fan of a coffee in a plastic cup? For example, The Evening Standard found out they used 5,000 bin liners per month and 900 ballpoint pens per year, this is something you might not pick up straight away, but there are great alternatives.
Sit down and read through the results of your plastic audit once it’s finished. Then establish a list of changes you can make to remove single-use plastic from your workplace – start with the easier ones, then plan to implement the more difficult ones long term.
Talk To Your Suppliers
According to a survey conducted last year with 6,000 participants from 11 European, North American, and Asian countries, 83% of customers believe that companies should create reusable or recyclable products.
Companies can collaborate with their suppliers to find more sustainable solutions for everything from raw materials to packaging. On the market, there are an increasing number of bio-based and recycled solutions for plastics manufacture.
Polypropylene, for example, is a versatile material that can be used in anything from bottles to tote bags to packaging. Thanks to modern technologies, it can now be recycled into a high-quality material that can be used as a replacement for fresh polypropylene. On a commercial scale, plastic can already be made from renewable elements. Companies at the start of the value chain should evaluate the raw materials they use.
Consider what your workplace orders regularly. For example, stationery can be highly wrapped, and many goods (such as rulers and ballpoints) are primarily constructed of plastic. Is it possible to utilise alternatives that include less plastic or require less packaging?
If you have any influence over procurement in your firm, ask your frequent suppliers what alternatives to plastic packaging they can provide. Consider alternate suppliers and explain why you’re doing so if your normal provider can’t or won’t give plastic-free options.
Swap To Sustainable Packaging
Whether you’re an e-commerce business or you just regularly send out packages, there are a few things you can do to make your packaging more eco-friendly.
- Avoiding over-packaging – Choose packaging that is the right size for your products. This doesn’t always require custom packaging, but it does mean considering the size of the thing you’re delivering and selecting the smallest box or mailer that the product can securely fit inside. To avoid breakage or damage, make sure your product fits snugly, and if you need to add a filler, do so sparingly.
- Embrace cardboard boxes – Cardboard is a simple and eco-friendly material. It’s biodegradable, reusable, and created from recycled paper pulp in most situations. Cardboard boxes come in a wide variety of forms and sizes. In addition to having a low environmental impact, double- and triple-walled cardboard boxes are extremely durable, keeping your products safe and secure during the shipping process. Even if cardboard boxes aren’t separated before being thrown away, they decompose quickly in landfills. As a result, cardboard is a proven way to keep packaging clean, inexpensive, and environmentally friendly. Just remember to seal your boxes off with paper tape!
- Pick compostable packaging – Sometimes, void filling packaging is essential, this is where compostable packaging comes in handy. Starch-based, compostable packing peanuts are reusable, effortlessly compostable and are easily dissolved in water.
If you pick biodegradable or compostable packaging, make sure you include instructions, so your customer knows how to dispose of it properly.
Make A Pact
Participating in joint projects can be a powerful motivator. Businesses and governments in various regions have agreed to set goals to help reduce the negative effects of plastic waste and wasteful plastic use.
The European Plastics Pact has been signed by over 80 organisations, including governments and businesses, to eventually achieve a circular economy in which all plastics are reused rather than becoming waste by 2025. The pledges include a 20% reduction in the requirement for new plastic items & packaging and making all single-use plastic recyclable if not reusable.
Pacts are frequently bold, with ambitious goals that may appear hard to meet; however, it is beneficial to dream big and aim high. It’s an excellent method to bring people together in a positive way.
Join The Circular Economy
Resources are used for as long as possible in a circular economy, then reused and recycled as many times as possible before reaching the end of their life. This is in contrast to traditional linear economic models, which use resources and then discards them.
A transition to a circular plastics economy can help mitigate the negative effects of plastic waste while also providing economic and societal advantages. Your company can think of its plastic waste as a resource and look for methods to repurpose it internally or even as a raw material for other industries!
Encourage Eco-Habits In Your Workplace
Could your coworkers or employees do more to limit their plastic use? Encourage them to bring reusable water bottles and wrap sandwiches in recyclable or reusable containers instead of clingfilm. Consider providing incentives such as monthly prize draws and the like.
Download The Goethical App For Your Eco Product Fix
Shop from GoEthical during 2021 to help make sustainable lifestyle choices, whether you have a specific product in mind or you’re looking for items to reduce your waste. Buy and sell ethical & eco-friendly, artisan, and pre-loved products at GoEthical.
If you want to browse an array of environmentally friendly and sustainable cleaning products, all you need to do is download the GoEthical App for IOS or Google Play. On it, you can chat and connect with like-minded community members and discover detailed listings for ethical and eco products, from small sellers to well-known global brands.
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