As part of Recycle week 2022, we wanted to explore the theme of WRAP’s Recycle Week campaign ‘Let’s Get Real’ to generate conversation around CSR, the positives that come with being an environmentally conscious business as well as solutions to increase recycling in your workplace.
CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) is the opportunity for, large and small, companies to not only make positive change but to also build trust with their customers/clients. These topics range from diversity and inclusion to reducing your carbon footprint, contributing to or hosting charity events, and of course, making impactful environmental change.
All of these areas are linked in a way so by tackling one, you are effectively making small changes to another. For example, if you make more effort to reduce or recycle the amount of waste being produced, it can have a positive ethical and socio-economic effect on developing countries that are currently being overwhelmed with toxic waste, that is being shipped and dumped from the West.
In 2018, 43.9 million tonnes of waste was generated by businesses in the UK – the most recent estimate for England alone indicates that Commercial & Industrial waste generated around 33.8 million tonnes in 2020. Businesses can be doing so much more to improve their CSR contribution when it comes to sustainability and promoting recycling in the workplace.
There are many leading examples of businesses that have made considerable changes and efforts to be more conscious:
Walkers: In 2018, Walkers partnered with TerraCycle to create a recycling scheme that accepted any brand of crisp packets to encourage consumers to recycle including a workplace collection once 400 packets or more were recycled. Once the crisp packets were cleaned and shredded, they contributed to making benches, plant pots, and football pitches!
Since then, recycling flexible plastics has become increasingly accessible with supermarkets providing drop-off points for salad and bread bags, veg wrapping, and more. Looking to the future, Walkers are working towards their 2026 goal to make it so flexi – plastics are included in people’s household recycling and to encourage the government to take action on this sooner.
Freddie’s Flowers: One of our clients that we’ve previously worked with, Freddie’s Flowers, has an entire business idea based around minimising waste and pioneering the way for sustainability within their industry. The flower delivery service not only achieves 95% of their London orders emission-free by using electric vans or bikes but they also use recyclable or biodegradable materials for their packaging as well as collecting their boxes for reuse when making their own deliveries.
Ocean Bottle: Another client we have worked with is Ocean Bottle, which has created the most sustainably minded water bottle using ocean-bound recycled plastic as part of their circular system to upcycle and co-process the plastic into creating new products. For each product sold, Ocean Bottle funds the collection of up to 11.4kg of plastic from beaches and waterways across the world.
Having strong ethical practices in your workplace not only builds on your positive impact on the environment but there are ways in which this can be beneficial to the business too:
- Shared values & consumer activism: Today, Millennials and Gen Z-ers are making conscious efforts daily to improve the state of our planet and our society. Therefore, when it comes to choosing where to apply for a job or making a decision between job offers, most will opt for the companies that are displaying transparency in regards to their environmental impact, and companies that are following up on pro-social initiatives over companies that are not. According to PLAY’s ‘Corporate Climate Crisis’ Report, more than two-thirds of employees (68%) feel it’s important that they work for a company that has committed to acting sustainably, reinstating the point that it’s important to know how to appeal to this market.
- Brand authenticity: It’s important to be transparent and show that you don’t just practice performative activism, but both business and employees embody sustainability and actively work towards sustaining ethical practices in your workplace.
- EVP (employee value proposition): Being an organisation that actively works to prioritise environmental and ethical values adds to your employee experience, particularly as this is a growing priority for many people.
What we are doing here at Goodman Masson
As a company, we are far from perfect however we are always striving to be better. Below are the ways in which we make an effort to recycle and promote sustainability internally at GM:
- Within our IT department, we recycle our toners through a recycling scheme although due to us being a ‘paperless’ business, we only require an annual collection of toners. Our IT equipment is either donated to our charity partner or disposed of through a WEEE collection.
- Designated recycling bins in the office with informative posters encouraging employees to recycle.
- Regular internal communication on topics of sustainability.
- Our building is powered by renewable energy and we encourage people to save electricity by turning off lights in the office.
- We are a carbon-neutral business and calculate and offset emissions each year.
- We have a sustainable travel policy that encourages low carbon transport and reduced flights across offices.
- We have 2 volunteer/environment days as part of our benefits so people can use them to travel by train on holiday or volunteer/protest with environmental causes.
- We are giving everyone in the company reusables in Q3 and promoting businesses that give discounts when you bring your own containers to reduce single-use plastic in the office.
- We have a plastic-free chat where tips are posted regularly.
- Awarded Carbon Neutral+ status.
- Our Environment Network works to educate and involve employees, for example, one of our Month End celebrations was held by the Environment team in which they organised an educational scavenger hunt surrounding busting recycling myths.
Lauren Boyce, our L&D and People Strategy Manager here at Goodman Masson, shares some of her tips on recycling:
‘One of the biggest recycling myths that we need to be aware of is being tricked into thinking food takeout packaging and coffee cups are recyclable. Although the cardboard box carrying your lunch may look like a sustainable product, it’s not as simple as popping them into the mixed recycling bin in your office. The majority of containers or cups that hold liquid or food will have a plastic or wax coating on the inside to stop the cardboard from leaking its contents. This material needs to be disposed of in a particular recycling spot, designated for breaking down the film coating from the cardboard. A great solution for this is taking your own Tupperware to grab lunch outside the office or discover your local waste collection services for these products.
If you’re looking to increase recycling in your office but don’t know where to start, TerraCycle has some great resources on free recycling programmes that accept your used products, your nearest drop-off point for recycling specific materials, and if you wanted to, how to register your office/building as a public recycling point!
It only takes one person from your workplace to put these actions into place and make a change to reduce your office waste and make your office more environmentally friendly.’
Visit our website check out our CSR contribution and our dedication to sustainability.
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