10 ways to reduce plastic in your business

1. Review your packaging

Packaging is the largest category of plastic waste. Nestlé, the world’s second most polluting brand has pledged to make all of its plastic packaging 100 per cent recyclable or reusable by 2025. But with so much packaging never even making it to recycling stations, it’s worth considering if you can move away from plastic packaging all together, or consider how it can be reused. Zeroco are an Australian company that provides personal care and cleaning products in recycled packaging that can be returned and reused.  

2. Get rid of plastic bags altogether

Most countries have now single use banned plastic bags in some form, but there are still loop holes allowing plastic bags to exist. Look at how you can completely phase them out, encouraging customers to bring their own bags, or providing more sustainable alternatives. The fashion industry are known for using a lot of plastic packaging. With each product being individually wrapped even when purchasing at wholesale. AS Colour, a wholesale t-shirt manufacturer have committed to eliminating plastics in their supply chain by getting rid of polybags, garment tags, swing tags and retail bags. 

3. Consider switching to compostable alternatives

If you need to use single-use products, for example for a takeaway food service business, research switching to a compostable alternative. Biopak products are made from plants not oil, making them recyclable or compostable. Their products look and feel like plastic, but are much better for the environment. 

4. Do a plastic audit

Identify all the places your business uses plastic and see if there are sustainable alternatives, or if you even need them at all. One way to do this is to go through your waste and see what is being thrown out every day/week. It might not sound fun or sexy, but it can help you identify things that are constantly being thrown away, which may be costing you money. 

5. Audit your communal kitchen

Are there plastic cups, cutlery, plates or straws? Can you replace these with reusable options. Swap to teatowels and washable cloths and create a roster for someone to wash them each week. Provide reusable cups and mugs for staff to get coffee or water with. 

6. Provide fresh water filling stations

There is still a crazy amount of bottled water being sold, with revenue in this space up 5.3 percent last year to $17.1 billion. Provide staff with water bottles, glasses or mugs and encourage them to fill them up at the fresh water stations. If you also provide water to customers or guests, consider how you can replace plastic disposable cups with glasses or if needed, paper cups. 

7. Talk with suppliers about moving to more sustainable options

Are your products delivered wrapped in plastic? Do they need to be? Can you discuss with suppliers about changing the packaging to reduce the amount of plastic you are using? 

8. Consider if there is an opportunity to be part of the circular economy

Manrags, an Australian sock and underwear subscription service offer customers $25 credit for sending in old clothes and socks which can then be recycled. This partnership has helped them get national media attention and has saved nearly 1 million pieces of clothing from going to landfil. Terracycle’s loop program has partnered with major brands so customers can return packaging so it can be cleaned and refilled. 

9. Recycle more efficiently

Offer clearly labeled recycling options in appropriate places across your business, and then make sure it is sent to be recycled. Some cities have services where they will pay you cash for recyclable plastics, cardboard or glass products. If you don’t have time to take them yourself, consider if a staff member might have kids who want to earn some pocket money.

10. Be transparent and make a pact

More organisations are now starting to be transparent about their environmental impact and how they are going to improve this in the near future. In 2019 Coca-Cola was named the worlds most polluting brand in plastic waste and has now pledged to increase the amount of recycled content in plastic bottles to 50 percent by 2030. Their contribution though has been considered by many as not enough, with other companies pledging to use 100% recycled plastic, or move to waste-free packaging by 2025. 

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