In Canada and the USA, we produce waste at an exceptional rate. Food, water, and other resources are being consumed far beyond our actual use for them. When they are used, they aren’t being used sustainably. The World Bank predicts that the amount of trash in the world will increase up to 70% by 2050. Reducing waste in your offices by creating a culture centered around sustainability can help cut costs, enhance brand reputation, and improve employee morale.
Identify the Costs
To really get to the bottom of your waste you must first pinpoint areas that are the biggest problem. In offices a common issue is often materials for employees. Stationery like notebooks, pens, and other equipment are often viewed as replaceable but eventually the costs of those basic tools adds up. Around 50%-60% of supplies are disposable, which means that they’re being purchased on a recurring basis. Depending on the industry and their level of digitization, companies can spend upwards of $1000 on office supplies every year, per employee. Small to medium businesses incur these costs at a higher rate per person, but the equipment can still run up the bill for larger corporations too.
Develop a Plan
There are many ways an organization can reduce waste. What’s important is developing a strategy that best fits your operation. Combining different methods is likely to increase your success by giving everyone more opportunities to reduce waste. Approximately 45% of paper ends up in the garbage by the end of the work day and 91% of plastic is disposed of with normal garbage. Introducing prominently located recycling bins that decipher the difference between glass, paper, and trash can help to encourage people to dispose of unwanted items correctly.
You can create an office eco-team dedicated to creating and implementing sustainable initiatives. You can dispose of old electronic waste like computers and cell phones which, after accumulated, can offer a small cash return. Going paperless by digitizing operations can reduce the dependency on disposable materials, significantly reducing waste and associated costs. You can gift your team reusable water bottles or coffee mugs to discourage bringing in plastic or paper cups.
Turning your new “green” initiatives into an internal competition can be a fun way to get everyone onboard and willing to implement new practices. Healthy competition can feed the transition to a “zero waste” operation. The more people want to get on board, the more likely they will have developed sustainable habits by the time the competition is over and you can give prizes to those who participated. Incentives foster a team mentality and increase morale.
To gauge the effectiveness of implementing your new sustainability practices you must set goals. Setting goals can help to monitor the effectiveness of the efforts and highlight what has been successful versus what needs to be revised. If you see a reduction of waste over time, you can then consider new ideas to put into place to really push your company to increase sustainability.
When strategies to combat waste are put into effect your team can see and understand the practicality of a sustainable workplace. You can also create a sense of fulfillment and responsibility throughout your office and reap benefits like cost savings and customer retention by being able to honestly say and prove your business cares about the future of the planet.