Steps to reduce or stop single-use plastics in organisations

As you know Recycle IT help households and organizations across many sectors recycle electrical, electronic and pure metal equipment. This doesn’t mean we are free from the single-use plastics. Plastics arrive as part of collection sometimes hidden away in the bottom of bags and boxes.

As part of our daily recycling activities, we ask recyclers to leave items of recycling uncovered and our team generally don’t accept items in bags (we don’t know the contains) but we still get lots of single-use black plastic from both homes and organizations which must be disposed of safely at a cost.

We also generate our own single-use plastic through items such as office, warehouse and canteen supplies, staff lunches and product wrapping, equipment packaging, etc. We are doing our best to limited usage, find alternatives and recycle in the proper manner but it’s hard.

The amount of plastic waste in general from the business sector has doubled over the last 10 year, with single-use coffee cups a growing concern according to an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report released in late 2018.

Repak through a recent audit estimates that 550,000 cups per day are placed on the Irish market with this number expected to grow. Most of these drinks cups are lined with a plastic film  (polyethylene – PE) making them harder to recycle.

What is in a Commercial Bin?
What is in a
Commercial Bin? EPA

Note: As you will also see above metal and hazardous waste (which includes electrical items and batteries) are included in both the black and green bins. These items can be recycled and should not be placed in the bin.

Recycle IT have assembled a range of tips to help reduce or help eliminate single-use plastic in organizations. We hope these tips help reduce the quantities of single-use plastic accumulated in organizations in which we work, volunteer or support. These tips can over time lead to reduced demand for disposable, single-use plastic.

  1. Measure your plastic.

As with energy, water, and general waste you can measure single-use plastic in your organization. If you can measure usage, you can manage usage. Start by auditing plastic usage within the organization to see what changes can be made. List the usage simple to complex.

  1. Define what ‘single-use’ means in your organization

Start by determining which kinds of plastics your organization class as “single-use and maybe produce a plastics policy, to understand the scope of work, how much plastic is used and where they are sourced.

  1. Plan to succeed

Take time to consider/research the consequences of change and determine the costs, benefits, and risks plastic-free alternatives could bring to your organization. There is little point in reducing plastics but creating other forms of waste as a result.

EU Plastic Waste Stats 2015
EU Plastic Waste Stats 2015
  1. Speak to your supplier

Co-operate with all your supplier and stakeholders involved with your organization. Include front-of-house and consumer product suppliers. E.g. office supplies catering, warehouse supplier, cleaning companies, etc.

  1. Win easy

Take simple actions in consultation with your colleagues which can immediately reduce your organization’s plastic output Example include removal of plastic water cups, plastic water bottles, disposable plastic cutely, plates and coffee cups, plastic milk cartons, food wrapping, etc. Accessible alternatives are easily available.

  1. Get your team engaged

While many organization will have experienced a demand for plastic-free products or packaging from customers, employees also have an interest in reducing plastic waste. It can be a good idea to have colleagues as plastic waste champions; they can lead and engage colleagues in the challenge of reducing single-use plastics.

Reducing Plastic in the Workplace
  1. Canteen plastics

Ask staff to research alternatives to plastic packaging – particularly for products which have traditionally been packaged in plastic. Look for products like meat, fruit, vegetables, and cheese sold without plastic packaging which can be used for work lunches. Ask staff to stop using disposable coffee cups, plastic water bottles and cups, cling film and plastic sandwich bags/wrappers in the office.

  1. Set targets and rewards.

It’s important to set targets which remove single-use plastic over the long-term Using plastic reduction targets, to drive action ensures positive progress. E.g. pledged to become single-use plastic-free (department by department) by 2022 and list how this will be achieved. Assign a budget and reward those who help with ideas and actions. With positive leadership and a good culture, organizations can really change!

  1. Use local and social media

Communicate your efforts through media in order to share your changes and hopefully, you can reap the rewards as an organization. Today media is invested in the plastic challenge in a way that has never happened with any other environmental concerns. The plastic waste challenge is featured on TV, social media, radio and in newspapers regularly so you and your organization can take advantage of this!

Singe Use Plastic - starting motto for organistations
Singe Use Plastic – starting motto for organizations
  1. At home

Share the learning from work at home with family members including kids. Kids they are eager to learn, and you are positively reinforcing a single-use plastics message learned and practiced in schools. Make changes at home, reduce packaged product purchases, separate plastic waste, reuse and recycle.

Finally

Remember you must act responsibly with all sources of waste. Eliminating plastic purely for aesthetic purposes is not the right message. Take time, choose wisely and go with alternatives where they make sense for your organization.

Organizations who have made commitments to stop using coffee cups, plastic straws or cling wrapping are taking the first step only. We all need to take an integrated approached and stop using all single-use plastic. It’s a long road but it’s one worth traveling.

About Recycle IT

Recycle IT is an award-winning not for profit social enterprise providing a collection and drop off service for all types of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). During 2018 Recycle IT offered a drop-off and collection service to thousands of homes and businesses across Dublin and surrounding areas collecting a range of WEEE which includes thousands of computers, cables, monitors, microwaves, cookers, dryers, screens and much more.

Recycle IT services are provided in partnership with WEEE Ireland. Recycle IT are supported by Pobal, South Dublin County Council and authorized by the National Waste Collection Permit Office and the local authorities across Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow.

CSR Commended - Recycle IT
CSR Commended – Recycle IT

 

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