Zero waste: Top 20 tips to reduce waste in the workplace

We generate about 177 million tonnes of waste every year in England and it's estimated that UK businesses could save up to £6.4 billion per year by improving the way they use resources. To mark the launch of Zero Waste Week, founder Rachelle Strauss offers her top 20 tips to help businesses do just that.

Gardeners often refer to weeds as a plant in the wrong place. And I challenge you to think of your ‘rubbish’ in the same way. It’s just a resource that’s in the wrong place! Is it time to view your rubbish as a resource? Recycling is often cheaper than sending to landfill. Reducing or reusing can save you even MORE money. By taking part in Zero Waste Week you can be part of the solution, improve your bottom line and increase staff morale. It’s good for your company image too. As awareness of environmental issues grows, more and more consumers are choosing to ‘buy green’ and want to support companies who are doing their bit for the environment.

20 tips to reduce waste in your business

  • Appoint a waste prevention team to brainstorm ideas, raise awareness and motivate staff
  • Take a waste audit – supply clear bin bags for waste for a week and see what people are throwing away. Keep it light-hearted – no blaming!
  • Start small – after you’ve done your waste audit, choose one more waste stream you could recycle
  • Choose recycled products – such as paper – to close the loop and increase demand for recycled items
  • Ask suppliers to take back bulk packaging for re-use
  • Provide reusable cups and glasses for staff rather than disposable ones
  • Reuse incoming packaging such as boxes for outgoing orders and envelopes for sending internal mail
  • Use concentrated cleaning products
  • Challenge staff to pack a zero waste lunch rather than going to a supermarket and buying packaged foods
  • Or, organise a pot luck lunch
  • Set all printers to print double sided and switch to draft quality where possible
  • Get your business off mailing lists to avoid junk mail
  • Use refillable printer cartridges and rechargeable batteries
  • Set up a Terracycle brigade for disposable biros and other ‘non-recyclable’ products
  • Start a community garden and compost heap for your tea bags, coffee grounds and fruit cores
  • Donate old furniture to organisations such as Green Furniture
  • Hold a stationery amnesty – a ‘no questions asked’ drop off point for staff to return excess stationery
  • Recycle mobile phones, toner and printer cartridges and light bulbs for a charity
  • Put recycling bins next to printers and photocopiers to serve as a friendly reminder
  • Set up a carrier bag sharing point – it saves staff each coming back to the office with a new disposable bag!

And, once you’ve done it, make sure your initiatives work for you:

  • Use social media to talk about the steps you are taking to reduce waste (#zerowasteweek)
  • Take part in local community events such as helping dig a school garden to encourage publicity for your business
  • Create a CSR page on your website, highlighting all you do

Zero Waste Week take place from September 1-7. Logos, images and more information is available from the website. Sign up here.

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