Plastic-Free July: Reduce Waste for Businesses

Embracing Plastic-Free July and Beyond

With plastic permeating our every day, we must understand how we can best manage our use of this useful but environmentally detrimental material. Embracing the spirit of Plastic-Free July, we encourage businesses to take proactive steps in reducing plastic waste. Supporting SDG 11, 12, 14 and 15, businesses can play their part in creating a more sustainable future by transforming and revising procedures and practices. This article aims to provide clear practical strategies and tangible examples for businesses to reduce their plastic footprint, aligning with the values and mission of SDG Align. These strategies will provide fundamental steps for businesses to make a positive environmental impact and attract conscientious consumers. For further curated actions for your business, book a time to chat with us!

Conduct a Plastic Audit

When beginning to work toward plastic waste reduction, a fundamental starting step is an audit. This comprehensive analysis provides insight into the extent of a business’s plastic consumption and helps identify areas where improvements can be made. By examining and assessing processes, materials, and products, businesses can establish a baseline and set meaningful reduction goals. An audit can act as a compass, guiding them towards effective strategies and tracking progress over time. For a quick evaluation investigate your Plastic Footprint here.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The principles of the 3 R’s—reduce, reuse, and recycle— are the cornerstone for reducing businesses’ plastic waste. By prioritising these principles, businesses can make a significant change and impact on sustainability. Each ‘R’ is elaborated upon below.

Reduce – Opportunities to decrease plastic production and consumption can be explored. Such examples include seeking alternative materials or packaging, purchasing in bulk to minimise individual packaging, and where appropriate encouraging customers to bring or use their own containers, materials etc.

Reuse – Promoting a culture of reuse in the organization is a great step toward waste reduction and impactful behavioural change. Employees can be encouraged to use reusable items such as refillable water bottles and coffee cups and single-use plastic items can be replaced with reusable alternatives in the workplace. Additionally, implementing something like a take-back program enables customers to return packaging for reuse, fostering a circular economy. Find a list of businesses that have successfully implemented take-back programs here.

Recycle – Establishing a comprehensive and site-specific recycling program is crucial. Further, educating employees about proper sorting and recycling practices maximises recycling rates and effectiveness. Collaborating with recycling partners specialised in plastic recycling ensures proper disposal and avoids contamination. Better understand Australia’s waste and recycling infrastructure here.

Encourage Sustainable Packaging

Packaging plays a significant role in contributing to plastic waste, in fact, the large majority. To address this and reduce businesses plastic waste, businesses can adopt sustainable packaging practices, such as:

Recyclable or Compostable Materials – Prioritizing packaging materials that are easily recyclable or compostable, such as paper, cardboard, or plant-based alternatives like bioplastics.

Minimalistic Packaging – Opting for minimal packaging designs that use the least amount of plastic helps conserve resources. Collaborating with suppliers to reduce excess packaging in shipments is another effective method to reduce businesses plastic waste.

Eco-Friendly Labels and Inks – Ensuring that all packaging components, including labels and inks, are environmentally friendly. This helps maintain its recyclability and reduces the overall ecological footprint.

Collaborating with Suppliers

Sustainable practices and impact trickle throughout the supply chain. Businesses can lead by example and collaborate with suppliers that promote sustainable alternatives and actions. Businesses can prioritize suppliers that offer plastic-free options, recycled materials, or innovative packaging solutions. Engage in dialogue with them to align sustainability goals and foster continuous improvement. Here you can find further information on the importance of sustainability through the supply chain and why it matters.

Educate and Engage Customers

Businesses have a unique opportunity to not only practice sustainability but also raise awareness and inspire customers to take action toward a sustainable future, a few methods to do so include:

Provide Information – Businesses can provide educational materials in-store, on their website, and through social media platforms to communicate the environmental impact of plastic waste/ importance of waste reduction. Transparently share the actions your business is taking to reduce its plastic footprint, fostering trust and loyalty among environmentally conscious consumers.

Promote Reusable Options – Encourage customers to bring their own bags, containers, or cups by offering incentives such as discounts or loyalty programs. Highlight the availability of plastic-free alternatives and eco-friendly products, empowering customers to make sustainable choices.

Transparent Communication – Regularly update customers on your business’s commitment to reducing plastic waste, sharing progress updates and milestones. Actively seek customer feedback and suggestions to foster a sense of shared responsibility and continuous improvement.

Conclusion

Reducing plastic waste requires a collective effort from businesses of all sizes. Embracing these strategies not only benefits the environment but also enhances brand reputation and attracts a growing number of environmentally conscious consumers. Use the momentum of Plastic-Free July to make lasting changes.

Chat with us about how you can integrate sustainable practices in a practical and effective way for your business and do your sustainability self-assessment.

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