To lower our environmental impact and combat climate change we all know we should practice the 3 R’s; Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, however, these 3 steps can also benefit your company and your community too. Unfortunately it can be a minefield figuring out how to manage waste and sometimes the focus can become deprioritised in a busy schedule, so we have put together a simple guide offering a little clarity on how you can help both the planet and your pocket.
Reduce is the best place to start; cutting down the amount of waste your company produces can be the most cost effective and environmentally-friendly approach. Businesses actively making changes to ensure they are environmentally responsible may attract new customers, or even give them the edge over their competitors in a contract bid; whereas insufficient awareness could have negative consequences on both popularity and profitability.
Simple solutions are often the most effective, just focus on one key area to start, for example:
- Energy – with rising energy prices, now is a great time to conduct an energy audit.
- Print and paper – compare the cost of an on-line system with the cost of stationery.
- Packaging – when possible buying in bulk can significantly reduce waste and often save money.
Next comes Reuse. Before throwing something away consider whether you, or someone else, could find a use for it; after all ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’.
If an item can be repaired, repurposed and/or reused it reduces the need for new. Reusing an object without the necessity for harmful treatments and processes reduces waste and pollution making it a more sustainable option than recycling.
Reusing items can also have a positive social impact; our friends at Men’s Sheds and Repair Cafes across the globe successfully reuse and repair many items that would otherwise end up in landfill. Consider donating any unwanted wood and timber to a community wood recycling centre or local Men’s Shed and there is a good chance it will become a bespoke lamp, picture frame or hedgehog hotel in its next life. Hand and power tools and gardening equipment can also be cleaned and repaired and used to benefit the community. Even small items like coffee tins (the ones with orange plastic lids..) are great for organising and storing nails and screws.
Lastly, but by no means leastly, Recycle – ‘only once a product or material is not fit for purpose should we consider recycling it.’
Recycling aims to reuse an item by reducing it to raw materials, so the materials can be reprocessed into something new. Although these processes can be less eco-friendly than reusing an item, recycling still has huge benefits for the environment. Recycling aluminium, for example, uses 5% of the energy required to make it from raw material and recycling two glass bottles saves enough energy to boil water for five cups of tea.
However, it is no secret that recycling can be confusing, sometimes it is difficult to know what can and can’t be recycled and rules will differ depending on your location. Surprisingly a large percentage of UK households and businesses still do not recycle enough; did you know only 7.5%, of a potential 70%, of all office waste, including paper, is recycled?
The materials that are widely recycled are paper, card, plastic, glass, metal and food waste, however recycling plastic is particularly beneficial as plastic takes so long to biodegrade and is made using oil, so the more plastic we recycle, the more oil is conserved as well.
Unfortunately contaminating the recycle bin with the wrong items or residual contents can result in the whole load being rejected so here are a few simple tips that may help ensure all your hard work does not go to waste (pun totally intended!).
- empty and rinse – a quick rinse will do, liquid and residue will stop items being recycled.
- scrunch test – scrunch packaging and if it bounces back chances are it’s not recyclable.
- leave the lids on glass jars and bottles – it reduces the chance of the lids getting
- remove labels, as a general rule – not all can be removed during processing.
Don’t forget to try to find a local community group and ask what items would be useful, just knowing in advance that those items would be appreciated may change the way you look at your waste forever.
While you are busy protecting the planet, let us help protect your business. We have made it our priority to make it simple and easy to insure your business, let us navigate this minefield for you to find the best and most suitable cover for your business.