Big Business and Sustainable Waste DisposalFebruary 11, 2020
Making a difference and protecting your bottom line…
Recent years has seen the world grow more conscious, on the level of the individual, of the environment; more aware of the impact of certain harmful behaviours, the impact that the use of hazardous materials can have when discarded after use, and the responsibility that each individual has to do better and to commit to more sustainable solutions.
And, we’ve no doubt all heard the message hundreds of times. Some of us have even heeded it- and to those who have, the world thanks you. Though it is understandable that some (in fact, many) Australians are disheartened, and a little forlorn at the notion, that- for all the civic movement and effective protests around say, for instance, single-use plastic bags or a plastic straw ban and what this might say about the evolution of our collective consciousness on environmental issues, the fact of the matter is- the impact these changes are likely to have, is depressingly small.
Am I, therefore, submitting to the futility of the idea itself? That we might as well just keep on using single-use plastics or that you should ask your bartender for 4 extra straws with your Moscow mule the next time you’re having Friday drinks? No. Not even close. As despite the debatable futility of the overall change these kinds of steps will make, it must be said that any progress is good progress. If not for these small steps, in the beginning, affecting sizable change always seems out of reach. And it is in this spirit that your friends at Perth Bin Hire wrote this article.
The truth is, according to a 2017 study by the Carbon Disclosure Project (a UK environmental non-for-profit), a mere 100 companies have been responsible for 71% of the global greenhouse gas emissions since 1998. This includes the greenhouse gases released from landfill waste. As a consumer, our individual contribution to saving the planet is only as good as the businesses, products and services we consume.
So, what can be done?
The most noticeable change can only be made if big businesses – the ones with the most power and influence on consumers – act more sustainably. In fact, a 2018 Nielsen study shows that 81% of global consumers believe strongly that companies should help improve the environment, which will help the 73% who agreed they would change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.
The best way to reach those big businesses is through powerful people, and a recent initiative from Australian billionaire and philanthropist, Andrew Forrest, recognises just that.
In a project he calls Sea The Future, Forest has proposed that household brands pay a premium for virgin plastics used in their packaging. This makes recycled plastics cheaper by comparison and addresses a common concern for businesses of whether or not they can afford to go green.
Forest has also previously called for a global tax on plastics to be imposed by governments. (The closest thing Australian consumers can link this ideology to is being charged for plastic bags at grocery stores – which, again, puts the burden mostly on the consumer).
“Industry, fully supported by governments and regulators, is the only sector that can drive the urgent global shift needed to save our oceans from plastic waste,” said Forest. What’s important is that we recognise that powerful companies influence less powerful consumers, and that’s the quickest and most instrumental way to a more sustainable environment.
Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenage environmental activist who started the ‘school strike for climate’ movement, believes in a similar principle – although she targets politicians, rather than businesses.
In her speech at the UN Climate Action Summit last month, Thunberg said, “Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are at the beginning of mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth.”
She encourages those who have the power to take responsibility, saying, “This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school.”
While individual efforts to save the environment are much needed, the truth is, it won’t mean as much if big businesses, and those who have the most power, aren’t on board. What we’re saying is – protecting the environment isn’t just a one-person effort. It’s important that those who have influence recognise their responsibility to the environment and act accordingly.
From little things…
There are many Australian businesses that are beginning to lead the way to encourage more sustainable consumption. This includes Coca-Cola Australia who plans to replace 70% of its plastic bottles with recycled plastic by the end of 2019, which will save approximately 16,000 tonnes of virgin plastic per year.
As the decade draws to a close, many business owners will look back on how much has changed in the last ten years. There are obvious changes such as advanced technology, which has streamlined business productivity and efficiency. And there are also changes in the environment and society, which play a massive role in the way they do business.
It’s also the time for business owners to prepare for 2020, which Forbes has declared the year of sustainable business. There’s no doubt that business owners should take into consideration the fact that sustainability and the environment are now significantly influential in business, and vice versa.
Everything’s not lost!
Here are three ways for your business to be more sustainable in 2020.
1) Start with your office
Sustainable changes can be made in businesses both big and small. Being sustainable shouldn’t be a hassle – and changes can be made somewhere as simple as your office.
Stock your staffroom kitchen with coffee to save your staff bringing coffee cups to work. Or equip the kitchen with plates, cutlery and glasses to avoid using disposables next time you celebrate a staff member’s birthday.
We act sustainably with the kitchenware we use at home, so it doesn’t have to be any different at work. There are so many small “household” changes that can be applied to your workplace staff room alone – and although these changes may be small, they’re just as significant as the bigger ones. These small changes can turn into habits, which allow you to do your individual bit for the environment.
2) A circular supply chain
Transforming your supply chain to become “circular” is a much bigger step to becoming more sustainable. This is about adjusting the way that you do business.
Adjustments can be made at any stage – from sourcing your raw materials to manufacturing your products to transporting the packaged goods.
Green procurement is the term we use for sourcing goods and services that are produced and supplied ethically. This includes ensuring your product is: manufactured sustainably; made from recycled or renewable products; can be recycled; and/or doesn’t use excessive packaging.
When it comes to your packaging, it’s worth noting that plastic is one of the leading waste pollution culprits.
A circular supply chain would also include taking responsibility for where your packaging ends up and how it gets there. According to predictions from a recent Forbes article, 2020 is likely to see at least one major global CPG organising “refill stations,” where consumers can get discounts on products by taking old bottles back to be refilled.
3) Partner with other leaders and make a commitment
We touched base on how technology has changed the way we do business. What the digital world has also changed is the way businesses and consumers interact and communicate.
Most, if not all, businesses have an environmental or sustainability pledge as part of their corporate social responsibility. You’ll notice that companies often outline this pledge on their website or social media channels to inform their customers (who are statistically-proven to be more environmentally-aware).
Simply making a promise will help your business commit to sustainability. Making this known to your customers can only be beneficial – especially according to the 48% of global consumers who are willing to ditch a brand name in order to purchase a more environmentally-friendly alternative.
It’s also worthwhile partnering with leading environmental organisations and brands to commit to sustainability. Not only will this improve your credibility, but it will also make acting sustainable a lot more achievable. As a business owner, you’d appreciate that building your business hasn’t been a one-man job. Neither will be adjusting it to fit the changes in society.
Here at Perth Bin Hire, we chose long ago to not shirk our responsibility to the planet and its citizens, to make a commitment to our local WA community that we were no longer going to be part of the problem, and instead, become part of the solution.
Perth Bin Hire is committed to sustainability
Do you want to help your business achieve greater sustainability in 2020? Perth Bin Hire can help in your mission to go green. We’re Perth’s leading sustainable waste management solutions company and we’re completely committed to providing practical, economically viable and common sense sustainable waste management solutions.
Perth Bin Hire
WE SORT. WE RECYCLE. WE CARE.
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