Making personal changes to reduce your environmental impact is easy. You put on extra layers to avoid using heating, take public transport to cut down on emissions, and buy loose vegetables to reduce plastic waste. Although businesses across the country are coming around to reducing their environmental impact through waste management, it’s not always as simple as the changes you can make at home.
Companies often work within strict self-imposed guidelines, which means that workflow can’t be disrupted. Often, upper management can be resistant to change – wary that forking out in the short term will disrupt that month’s budget, even though it could save money in the long term.
However, there are easy changes to implement that every member of staff can get on board with. Most of these changes also have the added benefit of saving money, as environmentally conscious changes usually end up being economical too.
Measuring human impact on the environment
Before you look to implement changes, it’s important that you assess areas in which your workplace could improve. Is it often too hot in the office? Are there recycling bins frequently available for use? Do people overuse the printer?
By making an honest assessment of your work environment with the help of colleagues, you’ll be able to work towards implementing meaningful changes. One of the most impactful changes that can be made in an office is reducing the amount of waste that you send to landfill.
Landfilling is the least preferable option of waste management, and it is strictly controlled by EU regulations. By 2030, the EU aims to have completely revolutionised the way that we use landfill and waste management – setting an excellent example for its member states.
At Bunzl CHS, for example, we have been constantly reviewing the impact of our waste that is sent to landfill. In 2006, we invested in bailers at our branches, to compact the cardboard and plastic waste. This has resulted in 3,384 tonnes of waste intended for landfill being diverted to be recycled.
How to reduce your ecological footprint in the workplace
The EU’s targets are centred around recycling because it’s one of the best methods of avoiding waste and stopping landfills from becoming easy ways out for companies to get rid of unwanted materials.
We, for instance, focused on a reduction in paper consumption through print, reusing where possible and recycling. We are currently working with a major UK paper towel manufacturer to recycle our customers’ waste paper back into the supply chain. The recycled paper is reprocessed and recycled into hand towel products that we sell back to our customers.
These easy-to-follow tips for recycling in a business will help give you a head start on recycling as much as possible:
- Provide employees with re-usable water bottles and lunch boxes to avoid wasted packaging materials and the use of non-recyclable plastics
- Reuse office items such as binders and scrap paper instead of throwing them after one use. Scrap paper can be perfect for making notes, for example, saving the pristine paper for client or customer-facing documents
- Recycle used batteries and printer toner cartridges rather than throwing them away
- Buy clearly marked recycling bins for paper, plastics and cans. Having these bins located around your workplace will encourage employees to recycle paper
Alongside upping your recycling efforts, make sure that you’re cutting back on material use where possible by being conscious of what you’re using and whether it’s necessary.
There are a variety of ways you can reduce waste in the workplace, including:
- Don’t use the printer if it isn’t necessary – some documents can be just as effective sent by email
- If you have to use the printer, use layouts that take up as little paper as possible, printing on both sides of the page, for example
- Consider using different font types or smaller font sizes to reduce the amount of ink or toner you use, you’d be surprised how much of a difference this makes
Saving energy wherever possible goes hand in hand with recycling, tackling environmental issues from both sides.
Currently over 85% of the electricity used by Bunzl CHS is from 100% renewable tariffs.
There are a range of things you can do to keep your workplace energy consumption at a minimum, including:
- Keep your printer and photocopier off when they are not needed, rather than having them on standby
- Turn off lights in the toilets, meeting rooms, and in the kitchen when you leave the room and make sure there’s an auto-timer for if someone forgets;
- Switch your lighting from high wattage lights to low wattage LED lights
- Shut down computers at the end of the day and use a black screensaver when your computer is not in use
- If you can’t control the temperature of your office, contact the building manager to ensure that the temperature of the room is correct and no energy is being wasted on unnecessary heating
Here at Bunzl CHS, we strive to lead the way in sustainability within the cleaning sector. You can read more about what we’re doing to improve our waste footprint and act sustainably here.