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Think Tank


FM World has been reporting on the campaign to reduce single-use plastics in the workplace, we present our findings below.

Although the conversation about the perils of plastic is not new, the recent awareness campaign has gained much momentum after David Attenborough’s sobering insight during last year’s screening of the BBC’s Blue Planet II.

Since then, the BBC has pledged that by 2020 all of its sites will be free from single-use plastic and the Queen has banned straws and plastic bottles at her estates.

It’s a fast-moving topic; 2018 has already seen plastic bottles and cups being replaced in organisations across the country. But there’s much to do; In the UK alone, 7.7 billion single-use plastic water bottles are used in a year with not even half as many being recycled.

With many consumers and facilities end-users joining the campaign, we asked you: 

  • Can you give us examples of work you’re currently undertaking to reduce single-use plastics? Please do provide additional comment on questions, including:
  • How have the pressures on you to eradicate single-use plastics changed over the last year?
  • How is this work affecting your supply chain and pricing?
  • Do you have any other comment about the rush to reduce and eliminate plastics in the workplace?
  • This is how you answered.  

Small steps can make a big impact 

At Johnsons Apparelmaster in Newmarket, we are focusing on what we can do immediately to reduce our single-use plastic and what we would like to do in terms of working with our supply chain and customers. We believe that small steps make a big impact and that the process to reduce single-use plastic will involve a longer-term, sustained awareness and education campaign. 

We have already signed up to the CleanSeas pledge, taken out the cups from our vending machines and canteens, have provided the staff with reusable water bottles and are auditing our plastic use in our waste bins. 

From these beginnings, an amazing awareness campaign has grown to help to educate the next generations. Two of our employees who are parents of children at a local school wanted not only to reduce their own plastic use, but also to find a way for their children to be involved. Earlier this year, we began working with a primary school. We have visited the school to help encourage children to collect used plastic waste and the children were so enthusiastic, they went out after the Newmarket Races to collect hundreds of plastic bottles. We gave out a prize for the most plastic collected, which was eight sacks, and when we went back for a second time we collected a lorry load! The project just keeps building momentum. The Johnsons team made a 10ft dolphin sculpture from used plastic bottles with the school to go on their float in the recent Newmarket Carnival. 

Tim Lusher, general manager, Johnsons Apparelmaste

Right thing to do

1) How have pressures on you to eradicate single-use plastics changed over the last year?

Massively. From not only my own conscience as a human being but from all of our team members and executive team who have highlighted our CSR as being a crucial aspect to ensure we reduce our footprint.

2) Can you give examples of work you’re currently undertaking to reduce single-use plastics?

As an organisation we have set up eco ambassadors who reviewed where we use single-use plastics and have ran various projects to educate our team members to reduce their use. We have changed procurement to ensure platic consumption is reduced leading upto our 2020 pledge of being a single-use plastic-free zone.

3) How is this work affecting our supply chain and pricing?

As a business we have accepted that our supply chain and pricing will be affected by this but, ultimately, the price to pay is less than the price it could have on our environment!

4) Do you have any other comment about the rush to reduce and eliminate plastics in the workplace?

It is very simple to make small but effective changes. This isn’t some fad that is going to go away. This needs action and it needs to start today.

Simone Fenton-Jarvis, chief workplace officer, Twinkl Educational Publishing

Replace with reusable items

We have a subsidised café on site and we recently replaced all plastic cutlery, straws and plates with reusable items. All catering is served on reusable crockery, which has dramatically reduced the amount of packaging used when serving food items. When it comes to hot drinks, staff are encouraged to use the office mugs available in the kitchens when purchasing hot beverages rather than having it served in a single-use cup.

Although we sell bottled water in our café, our supplier uses bottles that are 100 per cent recyclable, including the lid and label and the bottles are made with single plastic rather than double, so less plastic is used when manufacturing. 

We’ve also replaced single-use plastic cups with glass alternatives in staff kitchens and meetings and at events, reducing plastic waste in the office.

Pricing hasn’t been an issue for us, if anything our supplier is saving money because they are using less packaging, however, this is directly affect their supply chain, so it’s important they start producing more sustainable items.

Reducing plastic in the workplace is important, however, better education on waste and recycling is just as important. Staff are often unsure of what can and can’t be recycled and information can be confusing, which makes it difficult to know what choices are the right choices. 

Karen Farrell, facilities manager, Turner & Townsend

Ditch the chemicals and packaging

Sustainability and ecologically sound cleaning products have never been so important across the FM sector. 

There are products that work and deliver their promise in supporting cleanliness and hygiene factors, yet without being harmful to those on, or working around, B & I, care homes, schools, hotels, restaurants, etc.

We would ask why any FM would want to use caustic and harmful chemicals in their cleaning (whether in-house or outsourced) delivered in single-use plastic containers when for the same cost point, they can use all-natural products, which can help reduce skin irritation and other potential medical issues, delivered in containers that are helping our environment – not causing further damage. 

They can go clean and green – supporting the sector’s quest to improve cleanliness and hygiene.

Furthermore, FMs can now choose products that aren’t forming part of the eight million tons of plastic waste to be dumped in our oceans each and every year, which is causing irreversible damage to marine life and the environment.”

Mark Jankovich, chief executive officer, Delphis Eco

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