In this article, we look at the state of plastic waste in the workplace and suggest some reduction strategies.
Plastic waste isn’t being recycled as often as it could be.
The state of plastic recycling is unfortunately low. Roughly 8.7% of plastics in the United States are recycled. In Canada, the ratio is hardly better, at 9%. This means most plastics end up in landfills. Among the worst offenders are plastic bottles:
- 50% of plastic bottles are only used once before being thrown away.
- Only 23% of plastic bottles end up being recycled.
- Around 50 billion are purchased annually in the United States.
- They take over 450 years to degrade into microplastics, despite being used for only a matter of minutes.
This is despite the fact that plastic recycling is a multi-billion dollar industry.
What can you do to reduce plastic waste at work?
Not only is reducing plastic waste good for the environment, but it’s good for your bottom line, too. Waste disposal is expensive and filling up your bins with unnecessary plastics will cost you money in the long run. Taking measures and changing habits to reduce plastic waste is in everyone’s best interest.
Provide clear and adequate recycling options.
If your business isn’t recycling already, you should consider making the switch. Companies can see thousands of savings annually by recycling plastics, depending on their number of employees and volume of plastic waste created.
Some best practices for recycling at your workplace include:
- Plan for one recycling bin per 50-75 people, depending on staff density.
- High traffic areas, like break rooms or bathrooms, may need more.
- Attach a list of what can and cannot be recycled.
- Train employees on proper recycling habits.
Many of the plastics we use daily can be substituted for reusables. This is especially true when it comes to food and beverage containers.
You can encourage the use of reusables by:
- Discouraging the use of plastic water bottles, in regions where access to safe tap water is reasonable.
- Providing employees with a filtered water source to refill reusable bottles.
- Provide your employees with a branded water bottle or coffee mug – not only is free swag always appreciated, but it will support brand awareness and make sure reusable options are present.
- Stock your break/lunchroom with reusable cutlery and dishes that employees can use and wash.
Foster collaboration and brainstorming.
Bring your staff into the conversation about reducing plastic waste. Likely, they will have additional insight that you may not have considered.
Employees will be able to identify where the most plastic is being used and thrown out, as well as what would help alleviate those pain points. They will also be able to suggest alternatives and strategies that work best for them.
Likewise, encouraging participation will also build a more sincere desire for success on an individual level.
While no one person or business is responsible for eliminating global plastic waste, there are things you business can do to cut back, all the while saving money on your waste disposal expenses. Reducing plastic waste is a win-win for everyone.