UK waste management agency BusinessWaste.co.uk, says that the overwhelming majority of businesses are still behind the times when it comes to reducing their environmental impact.
Mark Hall, Communications Director of BusinessWaste.co.uk, explained:
“Households are expected to recycle their waste as a matter of due course now, and we are seeing much more media coverage of environmentally unfriendly items such as plastic water bottles or straws – but many businesses have been slow to implement changes into their day-to-day operations”
BusinessWaste.co.uk conducted a survey with 700 companies and found;
80% Had no separate recycling bins (internally or external)
96% Did not use recycled paper
59% Used plastic cups at the water fountain
20% Had an written green policy
6% Used green cleaning products
36% Used an fridge not AA+ rated
Johnny who works in marketing said “Mel in accounts is always asking for a paper recycling bin, I don’t know why we don’t have one to be honest”
Hall from BusinessWaste.co.uk added
“It isn’t just about recycling their waste – although this is, of course, very important – there are small changes which can be made each day which add up. Paper cups instead of plastic at the water cooler and encouraging employees to turn off lights in unused meeting rooms are two seemingly small ways to improve a business’s green credentials – and each of these actions has real benefits.”
However, failing to address environmental impact – or even consider a green policy – isn’t just bad for a firm’s impact on the environment. A study reported in the Guardian in 2015 showed that young people were increasingly more likely to consider a company’s ethical standing when applying for a jobs – including its approach to sustainability, which suggests that businesses may be damaging their own desirability as employers, too.
Environmental experts recommend including both employees as well as management in the creation of new green policies in the workplace. Not only does engaging with employees create a sense of ownership over the workplace and its collective environmental impact, it can also help generate broader discussions about policies which are most relevant to their daily routines. For example, teams working in paper-heavy departments may be more likely to suggest moving to paperless systems, while employees who frequently travel to meetings might be more inclined to suggest conference calling as an alternative to cut the firm’s carbon footprint.
Creating an environmental policy is an opportunity for businesses to review whether its operations are environmentally responsible. It can also help lower cost through reduced consumption and waste, providing a real incentive for firms to look at all aspects of their day-to-day running, including their suppliers, energy use, and use of consumables.
“Some businesses, especially smaller companies, may feel daunted by the idea of creating a green policy – but it doesn’t have to be War and Peace. Simply looking at your current use of energy and consumable items and setting some goals for reducing waste (alongside small, easily-implemented actions such as buying recycling bins for break areas) go a long way.
“Not only does this have a measurable effect on both your environmental impact and your overheads, it can also be a positive reflection on your business for clients, suppliers, and potential employees. Considering how urgent and crucial the issue of environmental damage, particularly waste going to landfill, has become, businesses cannot afford to ignore it any longer – and the good news is that companies can begin make a huge difference with just some small changes.”