Plastic waste has become a colossal problem. Many individuals, families, and businesses are wondering how they can use less plastic and help shrink this problem in the future. Businesses can play an important role in reducing plastic waste and become role models for other individuals and businesses. Let’s take a look at a few ways businesses can reduce plastic waste.
Businesses and Plastic Waste
Big businesses, including raw plastic producers like ExxonMobil and single-use plastic bottlers and packers like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, are responsible for huge amounts of plastic waste, and should be held accountable. The businesses with the most resources and the most ability to find solutions to the harmful effects of plastic waste are contributing the most to this problem each year. Though we all contribute to the plastic waste problem, individuals and small or medium-sized businesses are simply not responsible to the same degree as these much larger businesses. However, solutions at every level are meaningful, and change has to start somewhere.
Plastic pollution is a huge problem, and it sometimes can feel too big to try and tackle. But, there are many reasons that businesses might reduce their plastic waste, such as:
- Doing the right thing: Most of us choose not to litter simply because it’s the right thing to do and it reflects positively on our character, not because it’s going to stop all littering. Reducing plastic waste is similar; you won’t solve the problem by yourself, but moving towards solutions reflects positively on you and your business.
- Engaging with eco-conscious customers: Customers are increasingly conscious of plastic waste, and try to avoid it. Customers are also increasingly aligning with businesses that have similar priorities. Businesses that show that they also care about this issue can win loyalty and sales with these customers.
- Setting an example: Some businesses may be unsure of how to start reducing plastic, what alternatives may be available, or what the point is. Exploring alternatives to plastic or reducing plastic can show similar businesses that it’s possible and important.
- Supporting solutions: Alternatives to plastic exist, but the businesses that make them can’t operate without support. By being a part of solutions, you’re also supporting the growth and development of future, even better, alternatives.
- Personal validation: If the plastic waste problem weighs on your mind, you can remind yourself that you’re doing what you can to shrink the problem. It may seem small, but feeling like you’re a part of a solution can make your everyday life a little better.
4 Easy Ways Businesses Can Reduce Plastic Waste
Some of the biggest contributors to plastic waste are bottles, bags, take-out containers, cutlery, and packaging. There may be many ways that businesses can reduce plastic waste of other types too, or make eco-friendly changes, but these types of plastic will be our main focus.
Re-Use and Refill
One of the best ways businesses can reduce plastic waste is to start with some of the easy or obvious things. In many situations, you may be able to reuse or refill containers, instead of using a new single-use plastic container each time. This might be as simple as filling up water containers at your worksite instead of bringing single-use plastic water bottles.
Twice the Ice vending machines provide clean, clear, cold water and ice, fast. Use the ICE2U app to find a vending machine near you, so you can refill your containers whenever you need to.
Forgo Plastic Bags
Single-use plastic bags are among the worst offenders when it comes to plastic pollution. These flimsy bags are designed for one use, yet the plastic they’re made of will last for hundreds of years and become microplastic. Using compostable paper bags, and encouraging customers to bring their own bag can help reduce plastic waste significantly over time.
The use of plastic bags goes beyond simple grocery bags. Consider other places you use plastic bags, and where you might use a reusable bag or container, instead. There might not be suitable alternatives to plastic trash bags, for example, but paper bags can work great for take-out, shopping bags, or shipping most dry goods. Using refillable containers can also help avoid plastic bags in packaging. For example, refilling your cooler directly at an ice vending machine can help you save money and remove plastic bags from the process.
Buy in Bulk
Buying in bulk means fewer shipments, less packaging, and, ultimately, cost-savings. Buying in bulk is another way businesses can reduce their plastic waste, and also save money. This might not be possible for some items, like perishables, but can be a great way to reduce plastic waste of many other items. Space can sometimes be a challenge when it comes to buying in bulk, but creative storage solutions can help you find ways to store these extra bulk items.
Look for Alternatives
Many creative alternatives to plastic exist. From coconut husks to algae, cotton, bamboo, and much more, innovative businesses and scientists have developed a wide range of other, more sustainable materials that can take the place of plastic. Many of these materials are compostable, so they can return to the soil when we’re finished with them, instead of ending up in a landfill. Many businesses are using water in boxes or cans, packaging materials made from fast-growing bamboo or algae, even edible cups, straws, and cutlery, to reduce plastic waste. Exploring these alternatives can help your business reduce plastic waste, and also gives other eco-conscious start-ups much-needed support.
If you’re interested in reducing plastic waste at your business, try these tips. Consider where plastic is really needed, and where you might try something reusable, or a plastic alternative. Remember that little steps can be meaningful over time, and your effort matters.