War On Waste In The Office

War on waste in the office

A growing awareness and willingness to protect the environment has resulted in people becoming more conscious of the impact they personally have. With the UK government making bold steps to try and reduce the amount of waste that the United Kingdom produces, how can the workplace do its part to help?

Many businesses across the UK from Wagamama, Costa Coffee, Waitrose and more have all begun to phase out the use of plastic straws in their services. Even the popular tennis tournament Wimbledon has plans to no longer use plastic straws at this year’s event. Instead, customers will be given paper straws that are recyclable.

This change towards using paper straws, or in the case of a restaurant in Bristol pasta straws, comes as both the government and the public take on a more conscientious approach to the environment. The Marine Conservation Society estimates that the UK uses 8.5 billion straws in a year and plastic is one of the biggest contributors to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It’s estimated to be 6 times larger than the size of the UK and plastic straws can cause harm to sea life.

Plastic Eating Enzyme Developed

Plastic is well known as having an extremely long-time frame before it will fully decompose, often taking centuries. As such, it poses a long-term problem for the environment and wildlife, with areas likely to be threatened by plastic long after we are gone.

In April, an enzyme that can break down common plastic was engineered by scientists, potentially reducing the time frame from centuries to days. This could be truly revolutionary by making plastic completely recyclable. The research began after the discover in Japan of a bacterium that had evolved naturally to eat plastic. After a bit of tweaking, it was discovered that its ability to break down polyethylene terephthalate (PET) was improved even further.

What Can Workplaces Do To Reduce Waste?

While most workplaces are unlikely to use a lot of plastic straws, it may still be advisable to perhaps canvas employees to find out what they would like to see their workplace offer. Perhaps a larger range of recycling options in terms of bins might be something that could be offered, allowing people to recycle a larger range of items instead of the traditional paper and plastic bottles.

Using recycled paper may also be a good option instead of using normal paper, particularly for print outs that are not important. Using print outs that contain non-sensitive or confidential information could also be used for note taking purposes instead of using new sheets continuously.

If your workplace provides plastic cups for water or coffee, consider turning instead to paper cups or instead just using mugs or water bottles that can be used continuously. Every little can help with the environment and by opening it up to employees you may find some ways to help that you may never have thought of.

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Sarah Jubb
Sarah Jubb

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