Plastic pollution has moved into the spotlight over the past year. What’s now known as the “Blue Planet effect” has highlighted the impact of plastic pollution on marine life, with Sir David Attenborough calling for public participation in reducing single-use plastic waste in the pioneering wildlife documentary series, Blue Planet II.
Frequently-used items such as plastic bags and water bottles are amongst the least sustainable, and most damaging type of single-use plastic. Bottle lids contribute 20% of all plastic pollution in the ocean while the UK has over 150 plastic bottles littering each mile of coastline. Worryingly, these plastics do not biodegrade, they break down into microplastics, which are then washed into the sea. Marine life mistakes these for food, ingesting the materials and in recent years, we’ve seen evidence of plastics ultimately entering the human food chain.
How to achieve a sustainable office
A starting point to reduce our reliance on single-use plastics and encourage solutions for a healthier marine environment favour sustainable options includes investing in reusable drinks containers or eco-friendly water coolers.
1. Avoid single-use cutlery when eating on the go
Instead of using disposables, bring your own reusable cutlery, coffee cups and glass containers to work. You can carry these items when you step out for coffee or lunch and encourage your colleagues to do the same.
2. Provide employees with reusable water bottles
Company branded mugs and reusable bottles can make a pleasant addition to your welcome pack for new employees. This could not only help reduce waste management costs resulting from landfill taxes associated with rubbish disposal, which can amount to £384 a year for small businesses or as much as 5% of business turnover in extreme cases.
3. Display recyclable containers throughout your office
If your workplace doesn’t dispose of all waste in an eco-friendly way, talk to your office manager about arranging bins for paper, plastic, glass and food waste. You can purchase a cup recycling bin from Waterlogic.
4. Choose a water provider that supplies to a variety of business
Our range of mains-fed and bottled water coolers provide refreshing water for your workplace while taking your environmental responsibilities into consideration. Waterlogic has a network of UK distribution depots, which allows us to calculate the quickest, most efficient route to deliver water coolers: this reflects Waterlogic’s commitment to optimal delivery practices with a focus on sustainability.
5. Create an office challenge to remove single-use plastics
To challenge departments and teams across the business, opt out of buying single-use plastic items with reward incentives.
We can all manage single use plastics by reducing, reusing and recycling
In 2018, the UK government announced plans to ban plastic straws, cotton buds and stirrers to help protect the marine environment. As a result, supermarkets such as Morrisons have taken initiatives to trial recyclable and reusable paper bags for 20p. This follows the success of the 5p levy introduced in 2015, which reduced plastic bags found in the ocean by as much as 30% in just a few years.
The 4R's can help you manage single-use plastics in your workplace
Consider the 4R’s - Refuse, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. This is an initiative that aims to minimise the amount of waste produced through more considered plastic consumption. In a flagship scheme, Marks and Spencer is inviting customers to bring non-recyclable single-use plastics back into store, which the retailer will then recycle into playground equipment.
However, it’s crucial we also rethink our attitude to single-use plastic as a precursor to refusing, reducing, reusing and recycling. Single-use plastics such as plastic bottles and coffee cups have a high environmental impact. After production and transportation costs, they are often used once for a few minutes and generate over 26 million tonnes of waste in Europe each year.
2019 could be the year to eliminate single-use plastic waste
Businesses who lead on innovation and set an example in environmental responsibility are in alignment with the values of their consumers. Furthermore, businesses that prize corporate social responsibility and a commitment to sustainability might see a plastic reduction initiative as a good place to start. The time has come to act decisively, and every action must tackle the scale of the issue. This includes manufacturers to consumers, and beyond.
Businesses such as Waterlogic seek to overcome plastic waste
Waterlogic provides bottled water coolers that are returned, sterilised and reused. Additionally, the mains-fed water coolers offer a sustainable supply of high-quality water. Waterlogic systems are designed keeping the environment in mind.