How do we reduce our waste at work?

If your workplace is looking for ways to reduce waste, then you’ve come to the right place. Get some practical ideas and inspiration here on how to get going.

Why reduce waste at work?

Customers, employees and other stakeholders’ expectations have shifted, which means environmental sustainability is a now a key part of doing business.

The easiest way to reduce waste is by avoiding it in the first place. The waste hierarchy (see upside-down pyramid, right) places an emphasis on reducing waste first and foremost. This will have the biggest effect on your workplace’s environmental impact.

Also, reducing the amount of waste your workplace creates leads to less disposal costs, and fosters innovation by finding new ways of doing things, such as new ways of procuring resources, and creating new partnerships.

Waste hierarchy

Where do we start?

Reducing waste is not an all or nothing game. It’s about focusing on what you can do and making one change at a time.

Some things that will help:

  • Understanding your workplace waste – look at what types of waste are created and how. For example, if you have a lot of recyclables in your waste – do people have easy access to recycling bins and understand what they can recycle?
  • Choosing one thing to start focusing on and creating a plan to identify what you’ll do, how you’ll do it and by when.

Getting people around the workplace involved by sharing the importance of reducing waste and including them on the journey. Everyone can help make a difference.
For heaps of ideas and guidance on how to get started, download our easy-to-follow guide Reducing your Workplace Waste.

What are some ways we can reduce waste?

REDUCE

How can you do things differently around your workplace to stop waste being created? For example, could you provide a 'library' of reusable crockery and containers that staff can use for takeaways to avoid using disposable cups, plates and cutlery? Are there digital technologies that could reduce paper usage? Could some of your workplace’s postal mail be received by email instead?

Thinking ahead and buying in bulk reduces packaging waste and often saves money and/or time too! For example, double-length toilet paper halves the amount of packaging waste used and you only have to change the roll half as often.

REUSE

Can disposable items you’re using or providing be replaced with reusable options? For example, you could switch from disposable to refillable toner cartridges and whiteboard markers. Paper towels in bathrooms could be replaced with reusable hand towels. In a café, disposable bags and cups could only be given out if requested, and at an extra cost to encourage customers to bring their own.

In an office, non-confidential single-sided paper can be reused for notepaper and used envelopes can be re-stickered.

RECYCLE

When items can’t be refused, reused or repaired, the next option is recycling.

Does waste from your workplace include items that can be recycled, such as paper and card, plastic, aluminium, glass (or a mixture of all these), e-waste, metal, green gardening waste, building and construction waste, or compost? There is no kerbside collection for businesses, so chat to some waste collection companies to find one best suited to your workplace’s recycling needs.

Read more on how you can recycle at work.

When it comes to other items that are no longer needed – like office furniture, stationery or kitchen equipment – consider donating them to staff or charity.

To get serious about reducing waste in your workplace, download Reducing your Workplace Waste – it’s an easy-to-read guide with more information, ideas and tips to help you on your way.