Combatting unnecessary plastic use is a more daunting task for the office than it is for the humble home – especially when teamed up with colleagues who are unaware of safe and environmentally friendly disposing methods.
According to NSW Environmental Protection Authority, around “70% of the things in a business’ general waste bin can be reused or recycled… So much of this ends up in the general waste bin, when it could be avoided, reused or recycled.”
Here are some simple ways to Go Green in the Office:
Reusable Coffee Cups
There’s no doubt that Australians love their morning coffee to start the working day right. Sadly, there are almost 33 billion takeaway cups being thrown away and piling up in landfill. Thankfully, Sol Cups have a range of three different sized, reusable, hand-blown glass cups that are perfect for the work team. Ideal for both hot and cold beverages, Sol Cups are microwave and dishwasher safe, BPA and chemical free and they each come with a silicon sleeve and lid.
More information: Sol Cups
Recycling Coffee Pods
“Responsibility means recyclability.” Nespresso has a few methods for customers to help the environment one sip at a time. Available by order, customers can choose from either posting their used capsules in an Australia Post satchel, hand delivering the capsules to their nearest Nespresso boutique store or collection points, as well as even organising a bulk recycling box that stores up to 1500 Nespresso aluminum professional and in-home capsules. From there, the recycled pods are taken to a Nespresso recycling facility and turned into more coffee pods or other aluminum products such as bicycles, Swiss army knives, BBQ tongs, peelers, window frames and even ladders. Making it easy to enjoy delicious coffee and help the environment.
More information: Nespresso
Ditching Tea Bags
David Derbyshire spoke to Wrap in October of 2013 and scarily enough, around 20 – 30% of a standard tea bag is made up of plastics. Even though majority of the much beloved brew may be made from biodegradable paper, a vast amount of material will remain in landfill. Although the tea bag is extremely convenient, employers should be prepared to switch to a more sustainable option. This issue can be easily resolved by purchasing loose leaf tea as an alternative. Apart from T2’s lengthy list of delicious tea flavours, they also have a handful of infusers available for every tea drinker out there.
More information: T2
Reusable Water Bottles
Plastic bottles are a nuisance when it comes to decomposing. Taking anything from 450 to 1000 years pending on the plastic – this means in reality, that one, single use plastic bottle would outlive even your great-great-grandchildren. To combat the sad truth, your office can be fitted with filtered water tanks and the fridge can be stocked with S’well bottles that are available in two comfortable sizes. With multiple designs available, S’well bottles keep drinks cold for 24 hours and hot for 12. In addition, they are triple-walled stainless steel, non-toxic and BPA free.
More information: S’well bottles
Recycling Ink and Toner Cartridges
Everyone can agree that the trusted office printer does a lot of overtime – their main source of energy – ink and toner cartridges. According to Planet Ark, sadly, when placed in landfill “they have the potential to contaminate groundwater and the environment.” Since 2005, Officeworks introduced the ‘Cartridges 4 Planet Ark’ program across their Australian stores. Since then, they have collected over 7 million ink and toner cartridges for recycling. Once the cartridges are placed in the recycling boxes in store, they are sorted and up-cycled into materials such as pens, park benches, fencing, signs, recycled ink and even asphalt for road surfaces.
More information: Officeworks
Since their partnership with TerraCycle, all Australian Officeworks stores now offer recycling options for old pens, desk items and even coffee pods – all of which cannot be recycled in your local kerbside collection bins. These Zero Waste recycling boxes, which can be found in store and purchased for the office, can be filled with the appropriate products and then posted out to TerraCycle for recycling. From there, the previously used and now recycled items will be turned into new products such as outdoor furniture.
More information: Officeworks
Batteries are made from plastic, metal and chemical elements. Even though they prove to be extremely convenient, single-use batteries unfortunately take anything over 100 years to decompose in landfill. If rechargeable batteries (considered hazardous waste) aren’t a solution for the office, all ALDI stores across Australia will happily take your old AA, AAA, C, D and 9V used batteries as part of their battery recycling scheme. For laptop, mobile phone, power tool and camera rechargeable batteries, businessrecycling.com.au offer collection and pickup options for larger quantities of batteries sourced from the workplace. Otherwise, contact your local council regarding any nearby stores that will collect old and used batteries.
More information: Planet Ark
Recycling Computers, TV’s and Accessories
According to Planet Ark, Australians purchase over 2.4 million computers each year – we’re amongst the highest users of new technology in the world. Obviously, with an increase in technology sales, our electronic waste is growing also. With the amount of hazardous materials found in computers, when incorrectly disposed and placed in landfill, the chemical components can leach into the soil and groundwater, further causing harm for both the environment and surrounding population. With an estimated figure of 44 million units of computers and televisions to have reached their useful life by 2027 – 2028 (more than double than the amount reached in 2007 – 2008), there are various ways to safely dispose of and recycle old electronics used in the office. TechCollect, is a not-for-profit electronic waste recycling service in Australia. By dropping off your old computers and televisions they can be recycled into concrete building products, lead for batteries and building materials, metal alloys as well as asphalt for road surfaces. Some computers and accessories are refurbished, repackaged and donated to low-income communities, individuals and community organisations.
More information: TechCollect
Recycling Old Glasses
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, ‘nearly half of the Australian population are wearing glasses.’ Even though the past life of your spectacles are of little concern when purchasing the newest set; unfortunately in Australia today there are no current upcycling schemes for old glasses. Instead, Planet Ark has teamed up with Lions Recycle for Sight Australia to create a donation system where unwanted glasses are collected and distributed to communities in need where eye exams are an indulgence.
For more information on other materials and the safest option for disposal see Planet Ark’s website