Turning the tide on waste

27th of January 2022
Turning the tide on waste
Turning the tide on waste

In this special report, experts at Rubbermaid Commercial Products (RCP) break down some of the key issues affecting workplaces’ progress towards sustainable waste management during the past couple of years – and the solutions businesses can implement to make progress.

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has spurred widespread and complex changes to workplaces across Europe. While many of these changes are easily identifiable – such as staff working at home, social distancing in offices and facilities, and increased hand hygiene provisions – another, less obvious impact has been on sustainability.

A leading international manufacturer of hand hygiene, waste and recycling and cleaning solutions, Rubbermaid Commercial Products (RCP) has continued to champion sustainability throughout the pandemic and is supporting facilities as the topic once again rises on businesses’ agenda.  Its award-winning Love Recycling initiative offers insights, support, and tools to help businesses reach their recycling goals.

Changing Workplaces, a Europe-wide research programme developed by RCP, uncovered how the pandemic has impacted businesses across multiple sectors to help give them control over the challenges ahead. The research revealed that 74 per cent of businesses are concerned about howthe pandemic has affected their sustainability credentials.

With facilities gradually reopening to staff and visitors, and research from IBM revealing that 72 per cent of consumers look for brands that are sustainable and/or environmentally responsible,
now is the time for businesses to make visible, long-term commitments to sustainable practices.
In this special report, the experts at RCP break down some of the key issues affecting workplaces’ progress towards sustainable waste management and the solutions you can implement to advance towards your goals.

Increase in single use products

Particularly in the early days of the pandemic, individuals and organisations were reliant on disposable PPE to prevent the spread of Covid-19, leading to a rapid growth in the use of single use products. 66 per cent of Changing Workplaces respondents invested more in disposable products during the pandemic, and 79 per cent found the increase of single use products amongst staff and visitors impacted waste management at their facility.

Although the heavy uptick in reliance on single use products is staggering, fewer than half of these respondents believe this to be a permanent change. The challenge for many workplaces now is to refocus on returning to sustainable working practices and adjusting their targets in line with the pandemic’s impact on their progress.

Split your waste to increase recycling

Despite 79 per cent of workplaces struggling to manage waste, only 39 per cent introduced multi-stream waste and/or recycling systems during the pandemic. Installing multi-stream waste disposal systems across your facility will enable users to separate waste at source, which in turn allows you to recycle more waste across your facility by preventing the cross-contamination of recyclable and non-recyclable materials.

A multi-stream system is not just a practical choice; actively separating waste to increase your facility’s recycling saves money and demonstrates that your business is committed to environmentally friendly practices, enhancing your reputation among customers, employees, and partners.

Integrating a culture of sustainable waste management practices

With over half of Changing Workplaces respondents indicating they intend to review their facility’s waste management and recycling practices following the pandemic, it’s evident that facilities are approaching sustainability with renewed commitment. But 72 per cent of businesses struggled to succeed in their recycling efforts  even before the pandemic, indicating many may find themselves stuck at step one.

Take a considered approach

Just as various parts of your facility have different functions and user groups, there’s no one-size-fits all solution for your waste management. Challenge yourself to think differently about how you approach recycling and waste management, so you have the right solutions throughout your facility and for each part of your operation. Through its free Love Recycling audit tool, for example, RCP can help you effect changes that will make a difference without costing the earth.

Also, consider the motivations of others at your organisation as well as your facility users when making changes to how you operate your waste management. For example, 44 per cent of Changing Workplaces respondents indicated that they would benefit from support to understand how particular products could save them money, while 40 per cent felt the same way about understanding how a product could save time.

From communicating the financial benefits of waste segregation to your board, to providing appropriate training for employees and incentivising compliance, there are many routes to establishing sustainability as a business-wide priority.

Leveraging budgets

Changing Workplaces revealed a clear trend of increased budgets, as workplaces grappled with urgent need for more stringent cleaning and hygiene measures. However, while 82 per cent of
Changing Workplaces respondents reported an uplift in cleaning budgets during the pandemic, only 42 per cent reported a rise in their waste and recycling budget.

As the pandemic has continued, however, there has been a real reversal of fortunes: 50 per cent of people agree that recycling and waste management budgets will increase in the future. This leaves workplaces with a new conundrum: how to best leverage increased budgets to meet the growing demand for high-quality, sustainable solutions.

Buy better, waste less, recycle

Implementing solutions that are manufactured to withstand frequent use over long periods of time is an essential step towards more sustainable practices. By investing in long-term solutions that are built to last while budget is available, you can simultaneously future proof your facility and meet heightened expectations from your service users.

Implementing long-term solutions that are built with longevity at their core also reduces the need for your facility to re-purchase solutions frequently. In turn, this then reduces the waste, costs, and energy generated from remanufacturing, transporting, and installing your solutions, allowing your facility to adopt waste management processes that are sustainable on a holistic level.



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