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Reducing waste in the workplace

Reducing waste in the workplace

We sell recycling bins, but we don’t actually recycle that much in our office - sounds weird, [but] let me explain. We have worked hard over the years to implement tactics that we use to stop the waste from entering our doors in the first place. So we thought we’d share how we reduce waste in our office.

Before we get into it, here is what an average week’s worth of waste looks like in our HQ (2020 data used before staff numbers reduced for the holidays):

Table waste reduction 2020 02 Real recycling data from our waste tracking in our Wellington HQ
Pie Graph waste reduction 2020 Waste by stream in our Wellington HQ

Reusable container stations

Lunch in a busy office can be one of the largest producers of single-use packaging, so we keep nice reusable containers, reusable coffee cups and supermarket bags by the door for staff to grab on their way out for lunch. Even with compostable packaging available in most places it's better to avoid single-use at all and helps keep your bins light!

Provide the basics

Cool filtered water, tea, coffee, sugar and real serveware are a must. Gone are the days of the water cooler with the polystyrene cups, the waste builds up very quickly, especially with the cost of waste disposal constantly increasing.

Set staff up for success

Every time someone new joins the team they have sustainability onboarding. We show them everything in the office to reduce their impact, give guidance on recycling and provide them with a sustainability starter kit. The added bonus, that you get free advertising if you put your company logo on it as well!

The kit includes, among other things:

  • A nice reusable coffee cup
  • A Misprint pad
  • Recyclable pens
  • A reusable water bottle

Refill services

Get refillable services where possible:

  • We use a company that delivers milk in glass bottles once a week and takes back the dirty bottles to be refilled
  • Our printer ink and toner cartridges are all part of a circular system
  • Our coffee supplier takes back their packaging!

Circular systems like this are fantastic at reducing the waste in your bins.

121605708 3743553218999740 703941086026322772 n If you're in Wellington check out Eketahuna for their refillable milk service.

Print smarter

Go paperless & set economical standards for printing for your printer. It can be a big time investment to transfer from paper to digital but it's much easier to find things once you do. Also, unless you’re a designer, single-sided, coloured printing likely isn’t necessary. We set up these standards on your printers so when you do have to print it saves paper, ink and costs!

Be picky with suppliers

When it comes to suppliers, if there isn’t a circular option, just make sure who you are ordering from isn’t sending it in excessive packaging. If you can’t avoid a supplier send a friendly email requesting that they reassess their packaging because it matters to you and your business.

Do a waste audit

Each office is different and once you know what you're producing it's easier to create a plan to counteract it. It might be paper towels, textiles, soft plastics, ring binders, and once you know you can try to find an alternative. A small change we made was removing post-it notes and swapping for cut up pieces of used card for Kanban boards.

Check out our guide on how to carry out a DIY waste audit here.

Collect uncommon recyclables

Bottle lids, soft plastics E-waste, fabric, bread tags and many other materials that can’t go in your standard recycling bin are often collected by charities or other local organisations for recycling. It might require someone to go a little out of their way but can add up to significant reductions over a year. We worked with an international designer in London to create custom bins for waste fabric collection so it could be sent for recycling.

Custom 20 L Grey batteries bin Custom 20L Batteries Bin

Don’t have a never ending supply of stationary

This one happened by accident, but often it's the things we value the least that go missing and are wasted. You’d be surprised how much more effort people put into keeping track of their pen when there isn’t an easy backup.

Reuse packaging where possible

We keep boxes and paper packaging material to reuse when we need to send packages from the office 📦.

Stop unnecessary mail subscriptions

Is there a pile of magazines or brochures piling up in the corner collecting dust? Email the providers and request that they remove your address from their mailing list or, that they send you the email version instead.

Have a green team

As with most things in business, your employees are your greatest resource when it comes to reducing your environmental impact. The Green Team should be responsible for monitoring and responding to sustainability initiatives and issues in your business.

All initiatives fail if they aren’t maintained, encouraged and regularly communicated about. The Green Team remaining attentive will be one of your greatest tools for success.

Learn more about establishing your workplace Green Team here.

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