Single-use Plastic Reduction

Single-use Plastic

Plastic-free July is almost over, but we want to encourage you to keep the spirit alive all year! The switch from single-use plastics to reusable items not only saves you money but also shows your employees and patrons that you share a commitment to the environment. A recent “Attitudes towards single-use plastic” IPSOS poll, which reached more than 20,000 people in 28 different countries, showed that 82% of people preferred items and packaging with less plastic content. With consumer trends continuing to lean towards eliminating single-use plastic, there has never been a better time to make more eco-friendly choices for your business. Here are some tips and tricks for your business to reduce plastic waste: 

  • Find alternatives to plastic products that work for your business without sacrificing quality. Part of making plastic-free product changes is determining what works best for your business’s needs. For example, we all know the negative impacts that plastic straws have on the environment, but some paper alternatives fall apart quite easily, aggravating your customers. Fortunately, alternatives to plastic are evolving rapidly and compostable, biodegradable straws are now available that have structures similar to plastic straws without the waste. We recommend that you switch to BPI Certified alternatives to plastic straws and other foodware items. Your customers will love the switch!

  • Rethink packaging. Although we require our businesses to eliminate styrofoam altogether and reduce plastics as much as possible when shipping to customers or receiving from a supplier, your business can go above and beyond with innovative packaging. Plastic-free packaging options made from compostable and biodegradable materials such as recycled paper pulp are readily available from many manufacturers throughout the nation. Additional alternatives are also increasingly available, like the new packaging technology from Ecovative Design, that is creating an incredible alternative to plastic-based foam made from mushroom tissue. Many of these options are only available when ordered in large quantities, however, but there are many items available that are more appropriate for small businesses. Check out the Sustainable Packaging Guide for Small Businesses to find lots of packaging options available to purchase in small quantities. 

  • Reduce plastic liners. You can eliminate plastic liners in trash and recycling bins at employee desks and workstations by implementing a company policy to only allow food contaminated waste and recycling to be disposed of in designated areas in breakrooms, kitchens, and cafeterias. If your business must use liners in all bins, make sure to select the best option for your needs. Grainger has a great piece that provides data on plastic reduction by selecting the right liner. You can save 20% or more on costs by selecting the correct liner size for the bins you have, and reducing plastic by electing a lower gauge (thickness of bag). You can further reduce plastic waste by leaving unsoiled liners in bins for reuse. Simply consolidate waste in a larger container when collected, allowing liners to be reused multiple times. Final tip: Get liners made with recycled content plastic!

  • Reassess your waste stream. All Green Businesses complete a waste audit during certification or recertification to assess waste generated by the business in order to streamline operations. If your business has grown or changed, and you are in-between certification cycles, consider reassessing your waste stream by conducting another waste audit. Checking in on your business operations annually can help ensure your business is as efficient as possible as you grow, which will ultimately save you money. 

  • Make reusables easily accessible. Your business may already be reducing plastic waste by providing your employees with reusable dishware in the breakroom, but there’s more you can provide to encourage your employees to reduce the use of single-use plastic. By purchasing reusable to-go ware and making it available for your employees to take to restaurants to package up their leftovers, you will reduce the amount of single-use plastic being brought back to your business for disposal. Be sure to purchase containers that can be easily washed in a dishwasher or by hand, such as reusable plastic clam shells, containers made of glass, or metal (like tiffin tins).

  • Ecofriendly drinks. For water, install filtered water refill stations to reduce single-use plastic water bottles in the workplace (and avoid providing plastic bottled beverages). Make sure to have reusable cups at the stations rather than disposables. For coffee/tea, provide reusable mugs and utensils instead of disposable cups and single-use stirrers.