As well as reducing carbon emissions and pollution, eliminating single-use items is a visible signal of intent that can help engage staff and customers.
We’ll begin this section with a caveat – where there is no alternative, disposable PPE and other essential equipment to maintain COVID-19 is a necessary evil. However, avoiding such items in other areas helps to mitigate the substantial waste impact of new hygiene measures. For that reason, eliminating single-use items wherever possible is more important than ever.
While we’re on the subject of PPE, it’s worth mentioning that Terracycle offers a recycling service for used masks and gloves, as well as for other hard-to-recycle materials.
Even during the coronavirus pandemic, here are some steps you can take to reduce the use of disposables in your office:
- Issue staff with their own reusable hot drink mugs and water bottles, to avoid the use of plastic and paper cups for drinks.
- Rethink the provision of single-use stationery items such as post-it notes – are they really necessary or does technology now offer better solutions?
- Encourage staff to wear re-usable masks rather than disposables; you could get these made with company branding.
- Avoid the temptation to provide disposable crockery and cutlery, even if it’s made from bioplastic, cardboard or wood. Single-use is still single-use, and their life is too short to recover manufacturing and disposal emissions. Conventional crockery and cutlery washed in a dishwasher is perfectly safe.
- Source anti-viral sprays and hand gels in bulk and decant them into dispensers – the larger the package, the less material it contains in relation to the contents.
We are beginning to see sustainable PPE solutions – for example, this compostable visor made from plant-based materials and including a recycling service.