Now more than ever, companies and brands want to be seen as environmentally friendly. And it’s no surprise why – with the effects of climate change being shown at an alarming rate, more and more consumers are trying to offset their carbon footprint by only doing business with ‘green’ companies.

This has fuelled businesses to try and reduce their waste as much as possible. This is especially true of plastic waste. Of all the waste accumulated, plastic gives homes and companies the most trouble.

Plastic is everywhere. More and more products are packaged with it, sometimes even without our knowledge. There is nothing worse than ordering something to be delivered, only to realise the weight of the plastic is higher than what you ordered, and this can prevent customers from re-ordering from you. Ensuring that you are using recycled plastics in your packaging can curry favour with your client base.

But no fear, because we’re going to talk you through everything you need to know about plastic recycling for your business.

What plastics can you recycle?

Though plastic often conjures up a very specific image, the word “plastic” is really a broad term for many synthetic materials.

As you’ll know from your current recycling efforts, some plastics can be recycled, while others can’t. Your location will factor into which plastics you can recycle, so it’s important to do research on what you can and cannot recycle in your area.

Should you get rid of plastic completely?

Many companies have gone completely plastic-free and on the surface this can seem an excellent idea. It is environmentally friendly, and it is certainly much less effort to simply use less plastic than it is to recycle it.

Unfortunately, for many businesses this just isn’t feasible. If your business falls into this category, there’s no need to worry; as long as you are reusing and recycling your materials correctly and reducing the amount of plastics where you can, you can still stand to save significantly.

Single-use plastics

Wherever possible, single-use plastics should absolutely be phased out of your business, as has occurred within many companies recently.

This comes in two forms: eliminating plastics that cannot be recycled and increasing awareness on plastic products that can be reused or recycled.

Many products can actually be recycled but often end up in landfill. This can happen everywhere – be it product packaging, stationary, food containers, straws, and much more. Luckily, there are ways to prevent this within your work environment. For example, designing labels on bins and waste areas that encourage recycling of these products can ultimately prevent items from becoming single-use.

Offer alternatives

Another way of reducing single-use plastics is replacing them with other materials.

Water bottles, plastic bags, straws and more can all be substituted for materials that are more widely recycled. For instance, offering metal or glass bottles in your business can avoid the purchase of their plastic counterparts. Paper, glass and metal are common alternative materials to most single-use plastics.

If you have a staff room or on-site cafeteria that provides milk, you can often find suppliers that still deliver in glass bottles. So, you may consider going old school! Many of these companies will also offer fruit juices in sustainable packaging.

Monitor your progress

As with any large project, tracking your progress is crucial. This way you’ll be able to see what parts of the recycling projects are going well and what parts may need improving. Determine how much total landfill waste your company creates, as well as the waste-to-recycle ratio.

Gathering these figures will also allow you to create incentive schemes and friendly competitions within your business. The response from staff can be huge and result in a significant recycling improvement business-wide.

Ensure you allow feedback from your employees, too. If there aren’t enough recycle bins or if the labels are confusing then getting that feedback will benefit everyone.

With a plan and the support of your staff, you’ll see the rewards in no time at all.

Stay up-to-date

Business recycling policies around recycling are changing frequently, and as such it’s important to keep on top of your company’s recycling regime.

This can be important for many reasons and the industry can see strides in how any kind of waste is recycled in a given year – this is especially true for plastic waste.

Additionally, you may find that since the implementation of your recycling policy, you’ve discovered a number of ways that you can cut down plastic waste. For this reason, reviewing your policy regularly can be hugely beneficial.

Benefits of plastic recycling

A study in 2017 found that 6.3-6.9 billion tons of plastic goes to landfill. This plastic kills over 1.1 million animals and birds every year.

As you can imagine then, the environmental benefits of plastic recycling are colossal. But equally, so are the monetary benefits. Reusable items save money, when compared to constantly buying single use plastics.

It will also reduce how much space is taken up by waste – space that can be used for something else or even allowing your business to downsize. The less waste generated in general also means less frequent waste collection, which can be a big saving.

These are probably the more obvious benefits, but one you may not have considered is company reputation or Corporate Social Responsibility. Being an environmentally conscious company labels your company as being forward-thinking and innovative. Furthermore, it is a particularly attractive quality for customers and clients, who are increasingly aware of the importance of recycling. 

This can extend to your employees. Knowing they’re working for a business that takes addressing climate change seriously is far more satisfying than the reverse. Company-wide initiatives can also bring people together towards a common purpose.