12 Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste in Your Office

Plastic is a problem that we have all become increasingly aware of. Organisations like Greenpeace and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation report that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea than fish, causing devastation to the  oceans and horrifying damage to wildlife We need to drastically reduce the amount of plastic that is being discarded each day. As we return to our offices, cutting down the plastic used there would be a great start. We’ve put together a list of ways to reduce plastic waste in your workplace.

Provide Unlimited Filtered Water

Single-use plastic water bottles are among the most common items we find washed up on beaches. Globally we use  a million plastic bottles a minute, which seems totally indefensible in countries where tap water is safe, clean and free.

Install a mains-fed filtered water cooler or put a water filter on the office kitchen tap. Filtered tap water tastes better and is healthier than bottled water. Encourage your colleagues to use reusable water bottles.

Encourage Staff to Bring Their Own Lunch

A lot of plastic waste comes from staff lunches Provide your staff with facilities to store and reheat food and encourage them to bring in their own lunch. This cuts out shop-bought sandwiches, ready-made meals and pasta dishes in single-use plastic packaging.

Reusables Items in Kitchens & Canteens

Provide reusable items in the kitchen and canteen areas and/or encourage colleagues to bring their own plates, cups, bowls, cutlery, lunchboxes, etc., as well as providing facilities for washing them after use. There is no excuse for disposable cutlery. A single plastic fork used for a couple of minutes will remain in the environment for many, many years to come.

Reduce Plastic in Tea & Coffee

Tea and coffee making produce an awful lot of plastic, but there are ways you can cut this down. Have milk delivered in reusable and returnable glass bottles. Use Find Me a Milkman for a local supplier.  Have sugar in paper packets or put into refillable tins, not in plastic pots.

Most tea bags have plastic in them. Use tea bag brands that avoid using plastic. As for coffee, use glass jars (just the lid is plastic) or tins of coffee.  Avoid machines that have single use pods. Have a cafetière available for staff. Of course, use reusable mugs and spoons.

Give Your Team Something Reusable

If you have budget, a great way to kick-start your plastic-free office environment is to give employees one reusable item, such as a water bottle, coffee cup or lunchbox. You can even brand these, if appropriate

Have Company Bags

Recent research has shown that reusable ‘bags-for-life’ are adding to the problem of single use plastics produced by supermarkets, as they are not being re-used. Make   canvas and biodegradable bags available in your office for your team to use, for lunches or trips to the shop. These can be Company printed to showcase your brand!


This is obvious one and you are probably already doing it. Ensure that items are genuinely recyclable and are in the right bin. Here is a guide that shows you what can be recycled in the UK. Inform your team, clearly label recycling bins and minimise general waste bins. Use biodegradable bin bag options when possible.

Responsibly Source Your Office Supplies

Think carefully about office purchases, e.g. before buying toner, check if the supplier has a send back scheme for empties. It is even possible to request that suppliers use less plastic packaging by drafting a formal letter with guidelines of how you would prefer to receive your deliveries in future. Receiving less plastic will cut down on own your business waste costs. It may even cause a beneficial ‘ripple effect’ through the supply chain.

Promote an Anti-plastic Culture

Encourage good plastic habits amongst employees. Consider suitable incentives for team members who go out of their way to help reduce the plastic waste at the office. Encourage people to take practices home with them.

Organise an Outside Clean-up

Arrange a littler picking walk to help clear your local area of rubbish, or organise a park, river or beach clean with your team This could be worked into a team building activity where teams compete against each other to fill the most bags.

Share Successes and Inspire Others

Record improvements in the amount of recycling waste your organisation generates on a daily/weekly/monthly basis and report these back. Get the offices around your workplace involved by sharing useful articles, posts, tweets and blogs. Try to spread good practice and habits.

Ask Your Team for Ideas

The people with the best insights into how to cut plastic usage in are your team. They are the ones who know the biggest sources of plastic waste in your business. With a little prompting, they will come up with some brilliant ideas for doing things differently.

It’s important not to be disheartened. You will probably never eliminate all plastic from your office, but making consistent reductions in your plastic usage over time adds up to make a big difference.

Using less plastic in the workplace is not rocket science. It does require some time and investment and you will never achieve zero waste, because that would be virtually impossible. Cutting plastic use means recognising that we can’t go on treating an indestructible material as disposable waste. Once we do, we can come up with better ways of doing things, to protect our fragile environment.

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