International Plastic Bag Free Day: Pursuing Zero Waste in the Office

July 4, 20228:12 am4537 views

People have produced more plastic in the last ten years than they have in the previous century. Around 500 billion plastic bags are used globally each year. Every minute, over one million bags are used, but a plastic bag has an average “working life” of 15 minutes. Not only does the concern for plastic bag use affect the larger scale of society; the workplace is also one to contribute to this issue. In conjunction with the International Plastic Bag Free Day, here is how your company can contribute to pursuing zero waste in the office.

Shocking Statistics about Plastic

UNEP revealed that every minute, the equivalent of a garbage truck of plastic is spilled into the ocean, and plastic has been detected in 83% of tap water and 90% of bottled water. Plastic was discovered in human placentas in 2020. “At this moment, zero waste is more of a journey than something that can be attained,” said Larry Chalfan of the Zero Waste Alliance. Much can be done, and many companies set the aim of “zero waste to landfill” and then redefine it to mean “over 90% of trash diverted to reuse or recycling.” Big companies such as WalMart and AAMCO have also committed to a zero-waste objective. So why not incorporate it at your workplace as well? 

Sandile Shabangu, the founder of Startup Mzansi Ventures and Startup Mzansi Foundation, is a successful “startup entrepreneur” who has already adopted a zero-waste office lifestyle. In his LinkedIn post, he stated that in his attempt to save money on furniture for the new area, he was inspired by the concept of using recycled materials such as pallets, tyres, and other materials to create different and unique furniture. He then gathered a team to put the goal into action while also providing work opportunities for skilled young men.
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Aside from that, there are several things you may do to achieve zero waste in the office. For example, by adhering to the Zero Waste Pyramid principles (refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose, recycle, and rot). Further steps include implementing the principles in your office. Here are some options suggested by BuymeOnce.

Paper and Printing

Although paper is recyclable, consuming less paper is better. Zero waste includes the step of minimizing aspects that can lessen the need of recycling, so saving up on printing is one wise way to practice. To do that, you can conduct these tricks to cut down the amount of paper use:

  • Buy recycled paper and envelopes from sustainable resources, check to ensure it does not come in plastic, and consider buying from locals.
  • Unsubscribe to any postal mailings and sign up for emails instead. Use the power of online and internet.
  • Email documents and invoices instead of printing them, and only accept paper receipts when you need.
  • Use scrap bits of paper for notes/to-do lists. If possible, reuse old envelopes or packaging.
  • Buy link-on rather than stick-on stamps. Stick-on stamps come with plastic lined paper backing which adds to waste production and can be difficult to recycle.

Printing is still done sometimes, despite the massive shift to the digital realm. This is why you need to only print stuff when you really need to. If you want to buy a new printer, buy one that lasts for many years. There is also recycled ink and recycled used ink cartridges. Additionally, try to print double-sided and in black and white draft mode, unless it is an important document. There is a font that has been designed to use on average 33 percent less ink and is free to download, Ryman Eco font.

Plastic from Food

Nowadays, food delivery service has grown in popularity and this has contributed to the increase in plastic use. Many employees are using this modern way of shopping to buy foods and beverages online. The way you can prevent plastics from piling up in your office space is to encourage employees to request non-plastic packages in their order. If you have lunch catering in your office, ask your catering service to not use a single-use plastic package. Instead, you can allocate a budget to facilitate each employee with a washable lunch box that can be used for a long time. 

Not only will you be contributing to make the world a better place to live by participating in and establishing a zero waste business, but you will also be helping to improve the economy, increase jobs, and address the concerns of climate change and environmental equality.

Zero waste aims to send nothing to a landfill. We reduce what we need, reuse as much as we can, send little to be recycled, and compost what we cannot” – Going Zero Waste

Read also: Outsourcing Payroll: Why and What to Anticipate 

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