The UK Commercial and Industry sectors produced at least 43.9 million tonnes of waste in 2018, over two thirds of which was produced by the commercial sector. With limited landfill space and finite resources for creating new products, it is essential that we address our waste problem.
How to make a change
Refuse items which you don’t need
- Phase-out single use plastics in the office, for example opting for glass milk bottles rather than plastic, and switching to plastic-free cleaning supplies.
- In today’s environment it is almost impossible not to create some waste, so, to offset any unavoidable single use plastics, arrange a littler picking walk to help clear your local area of rubbish and create a happier environment for everyone.
- Unsubscribe from unwanted mailing lists – emails have their own carbon footprint!
- Consider your own marketing strategy to reduce the number of emails sent to mailing lists, or add a reminder for recipients to delete the email after reading.
- If you attend business fairs or events, don’t take along freebies which attendees are unlikely to really need.
Reduce the items which you DO need
- Share essential equipment between staff and volunteers whenever possible, instead of having duplicates which are infrequently used.
- Buy in bulk, when possible, to reduce the number of deliveries required and associated energy demands, packaging, and carbon footprint.
Reuse whatever you can
- Buy office supplies second-hand wherever possible, e.g., by buying refurbished tech
- Use only recycled paper for printing needs etc.
- Provide and encourage the use of reusable water bottles for staff.
- List your organisation as a Refill point for people to refill reusable water bottles, using the popular ‘Refill’ nationwide campaign against single-use plastic.
- Provide and encourage the use of canvas tote bags, as even ‘re-usable’ bags for life are adding to the plastic problem, having a supply of sustainable cloth bags means they are always on hand in the office.
Recycle what you can’t refuse or reuse
- Have a properly separated waste system to optimise recycling.
- Set your space up as a collection point for relevant recycling schemes from ‘Terracycle’ who collect hard to recycle waste such as office supplies (pens and highlighters). Find the scheme most relevant to your own waste e.g., a Café might sign up as a drop-off location for crips packet recycling.
- Make sure suppliers for supplies like printing ink have send-back schemes in place for recycling cartridges, then save up enough to send back at once.
- If you have a coffee machine, make sure that pods are a recyclable or compostable variety.
Rot (compost) all organic materials
- It is important that waste that can be composted, like food and organic materials, is disposed of properly rather than being sent to landfill, as waste in landfill produces harmful greenhouse gases.
- Collect and compost food waste either on site, or by donating to a local community garden.
- Switch to a plastic free alternative for (x) products (e.g., sponges)
- Start your own in-office compost
- Collect and recycle used pens at an appropriate facility
TerraCycle can collect and recycle almost any form of waste, which typically isn’t accepted with curb side recycling, or set your own space up as a drop-off point for the community: https://www.terracycle.com/en-GB/
Streetbank is an online sharing community, where you can post your own items to share or borrow from your neighbours. With apps like this, the more people that use them the better they become. https://www.streetbank.com/splash?locale=en-GB
Traditional platforms such as Ebay are still an excellent way to find second-hand goods. https://www.ebay.co.uk/
Home composting guide by The Spruce. https://www.thespruce.com/tips-for-indoor-composting-2539618
EnviroCity Limited specialise in the removal and recycling of electronic waste, aiming to be a ‘zero landfill’ service. Contact to arrange collection of old appliances. http://envirocity.co.uk/