30 Jan Ideas for Reducing Plastic in your Small Business
There’s no shortage of news about plastics right now and reducing plastic in your small business can make a difference. From our oceans to local waterways. Sea creatures and birds with stomachs filled with plastic trash they mistook for food. And on beaches all over the world, we’re increasingly finding the tideline littered with plastics from the tiniest microbeads and mini debris to larger bottles.
So we’ve put our thinking caps on and come up with just a few ways you could go about reducing plastic in your small business, whether you’re a café, a hospitality business, a trade – or a small office based business.
Single-use plastic straws
Did you know that in the US alone they throw away enough plastic straws on a daily basis, to wrap the earth’s circumference 2.5 times – each and every day! That’s huge and something you can easily do something about.
Encourage your colleagues and customers to #refusethestraw. And switch any straws on-site from plastic to paper – or fully biodegradable plant based straws!
If you feel you’d like to offer something other than paper, and something your customers can buy to take-away consider offering stainless steel or bamboo straws for sale onsite. There are lots of places selling both including Amazon, but we like Lakeland in Cumbria, UK and Eat Food Love in Totnes for mail-order. There’s a host of suppliers online for bamboo including Bambuhome and Bamboo.straws.com.
And if you’d like something completely different that caters for less able customers and is perfect for hot drinks as well as cold, then contact us for KoffieStraw! A 100% silicone straw that is the perfect hot liquid straw. It even fits to-go cup lids & has received accolades from dentists. We are delighted to be the sole UK distibutor for this product.
With so many of us living our lives “on the go” convenience is paramount; and yet we also know disposable plastic is not sustainable long term. This is where KeepCup comes in.
Their mission is to boost the global cultural change from disposability to re-usability – in a hassle free, stylish and consumer friendly way. We couldn’t love this idea more and Keep Cup has spent years perfecting these mugs that, as Mary Poppins would say, are “practically perfect in every way”. Without having to scrimp on taste and style, having a Keep Cup handy has a series of benefits for you and the environment: hydration conscious, hassle free and environmentally beneficial.
KeepCup is the world’s first Barista standard re-usable thermal travel mug. They come in a range of colours or a glass option (which we love!) – why not customize them to match your brand – and are both stylish and easy to handle; a real talking point. Made from lightweight, recyclable materials, they’re completely BPA free, non toxic and virtually unbreakable.
Use for the daily commute – on the train, bus, bike or car. Your KeepCup ensures there’s no danger of spillage or scalding or at your desk or by the watercooler – a great reminder to keep sipping on something delicious throughout the day to keep hydrated.
Pop them in conference packs, use them for business meetings, or coffee mornings – a great talking point and also a way to introduce friends and colleagues to the KeepCup and its multiple benefits for you and for the environment.
A recent discovery for us! JOCO cups are made from high quality, non-porous, borosilicate glass. They are lightweight and resistant to extreme changes in temperature. Their superior durability makes them microwave and dishwasher safe. JOCO cup is free of all harmful chemical nasties including BPA, lead and cadmium.With a one-way lid there are no coffee splashes when you are on the go. The specially designed nose-dome feature means no nose to lid collisions which is course vitally important!
In our experience most reusable cups don’t affect the flavour of your drink, but sometimes drinking out of glass might ‘feel’ better, and for sure glass has no impact on the flavour of your drink!
Takeaway and Single-Use Packaging
Almost all catering and hospitality packaging suppliers are now offering a range of recyclable and biodegradable products. We’ve hi-lighted just two which our customers currently use but we’re always happy to investigate and champion more!
A word of warning on the products for recycling – if there are no recycling facilities, these cannot be separated from landfill waste and will not impact on reducing waste in the standard collections. Fully biodegradable products, which reduce to nothing in about 12 weeks and can be disposed of in conventional trash bins looks like the way to go!
Perfect for reducing plastic in your small business when you’re providing customers with takeaway packaging, Vegware award winning catering disposables are low carbon, made from renewable or recycled materials, which can be popped in recyling bins for disposal.
Their single and double wall cups are lined with plant-based PLA, not plastic and are completely compostable in industrial composting / food waste facilities. In the right conditions these take about 12 weeks to decompose to nothing, rather than 30 years for a standard takeaway cup! There has been some limited success with home-composting and Vegware are working to introduce Close the Loop compsoting and recycling facilities across the UK. And they offer a printing service for your brand too!
Their cold-drink cups – also perfect for by the watercooler – are made from plant-based PLA which contains 79% embodied carbon than plastic and again are fully compostable in industrial composting facilities! Lids and all!
A distributor established in 2002 and serving the whole of the UK. A wide range of products including recyclable and fully biodegradable takeaway packaging from cups, through straws, paper bags for sandwiches and full catering platters all of which are eco friendly, recycled, biodegradable or plasnt based materials.
Sandwich containers, wrappings and takeaway cartons
This can be one of the hardest things to tackle when you’re considering reducing plastic in your small business, simply because there are so many different variations, options and needs to consider across such a range of businesses.
Again Vegware (not that we’re a big fan or anything!) do a great range of sandwich boxes, salad trays and takeaway cartons all completely recyclable or compostable. They are made from brown kraft board with a compostable liner and any windows are made from plant-based PLA. As facilities to recycle and compost standard waste increase across the UK the ability for consumers to responsibly dispose of their packaging will increase. By choosing compostables, foodservice businesses can actively drive changes in UK recycling. The more compostables there are in use, the more companies liek Vegware can work with the waste sector to extend collections UK-wide.
Deliveroo have introduced some great new measures for their vendors too and now offer suppliers a choice of biodegradable, compostable and recyclable packaging through the Deliveroo Packaging Store. Most recently Deliveroo have added the option to ‘opt in for cutlery’ feature which asks customers whether they want to receive cutlery with their order, meaning cutlery will no longer be added automatically. And they’re giving away 250,000 biodegradable straws to their restaurants (on a first come, first served basis) so they can test their selection of paper and biodegradable straws.
And finally on this subject – for foodwrapping in the kitchen and beyond, why not consider Bee Bee Wraps? A small company based in Cambridgeshire, UK producing beautifully made products with huge impact. All of the ingredients used to make the wraps are natural and non-toxic and they come in various colours and designs. The wraps not only reduce plastic waste, but because there is no build up of condensation the food doesn’t sweat but can breathe instead. So your food lasts longer too!
Or why not make your own bees wax wraps – some ideas can be found on our Pinterest board here!
Plastic water bottles are, besides plastic straws, one of the single most found items littering our oceans and beaches. So what’s the solution when you’re looking at reducing plastic in your small business? How do you change this and still keep your customers happy?
Hospitality locations and public community locations are increasingly offering free bottle refills with 1600 locations already signed up across the UK, but if you want to offer your customers a take-away alternative that doesn’t rely on them carring their own bottle what about CanOWater?
We are all increasingly aware that over 8 million tonnes of plastic are ending up in the ocean each year and companies are responding in a positive way. CanOWater was originally created in response to the damaging impact that plastic bottles have on the environment.
CanOWater offers high quality water in aluminium cans, one of the lightest ways to transport drinks, with the highest recycling rate of any drink on the market today. Already made from 68% recycled aluminum from the start, when you recycle your aluminium can again it could be back on the shelf in as little as 6 weeks. They offer a resealable lid (which doesn’t affect the recycling of the can) for still and fizzy options too!
Whether you’re running a small hotel, a café or a small business the chances are you’re going to have toilets, or at least one toilet!
Why not consider reducing plastic in your small business by using glass soap, shampoo and showergel refillable dispensers instead of the disposable, and often not recyclable, plastic ones? Available widely online and in major retailers, these can be cost effectively refilled with supplier from your normal supplier, or stockists such as Neals Yard. And you can run them through a dishwasher to keep them sparkly clean.
Now it’s not commonly known that almost all standard “paper” tea bags contain around 25% plastic, it’s used to seal and give structure to the bag so that it doesn’t disintegrate in water. However it means the bags aren’t 100% compostable, leaving behind small fragments of plastic to hang around in the soil until they end up who knows where.
There are a host of companies to consider for non-plastic containing bags including Devonshire Tea (and these are SO pretty!), Brew Tea Company, TeaPigs, Clipper and Shibui Tea to name just a few. Some offer gorgeous little pyramid silk bags, and others are made from several different forms of bio-degradable cornstarch (if you’re researching your own source watch out that the cornstarch isn’t GMO!) meaning your teabag reduces to nothing in the space of about a month! Or alertatively why not consider switching to loose leaf tea if it’s possible.
We were amazed to discover that most toilet paper is still made with virgin trees. Not only are we cutting them down, wiping our bums and flushing them down the toilet, but the process consumes loads of energy and water along the way.
So we set out to look for something new for both ourselves and the clients we are supporting in ditching the plastic! Lots of retailers, including Waitrose and other leading supermarkets offer recycled loo roll – but a lot of it still comes wrapped in plastic. But there are alternatives.
Who Gives a Crap (yes really!)
No chlorine, no inks, no dyes, no perfumes and most importantly no plastic! In loo roll or packaging! It’s 100% made with recycled office stationery. It may not be quite as silky soft as the brand you use at home (although we think it comes pretty close) but it has been 100% tested on human bottoms and you can feel good knowing you’ve made a massive difference to a community’s life and health without any significant inconvenience whilst you were visiting the conveniences.
There are even suggestions of how to re-use the colourful wrapper each roll comes in – bathroom bunting, a bookmark for your favourite loo-time read, and emergency pocket hankie or some lightweight writing paper for an old fashioned letter. What’s not to love!
Not just toilet roll. A whole host of business led products including toilet roll wall dispensers where they’ve replaced 70% of the timber usually found in this sort of product with recycled sugarcane and fast renewable bamboo. Greencane Paper is GMO and BPA free and all packaging is compostable with no plastic.
Their products have a low environmental impact compared with the harvesting destruction of soft wood forests which results in high impact to birds and animals, and causes extensive land scarring, and their packaging is Plastic Free and 100% biodegradable, using a combination of cardboard and paper, and a clear cellophane which is a plant based material so can to be composted. For more information check out their business range.
Soft toilet tissue made from 100% recycled paper. Free from dioxins, and organochlorines. No additonal inks, dyes, or chemical residues. Bleach free. Available from The Ethical Superstore and other outlets.
Yes we know this is a random one! But a long time ago in this office we switched to reuseable pens only. And would ask you to think about how many single use pens are you throwing away on a monthly basis? What about switching to refillable pens? Or going back to using an ink pen which you refill from a glass bottle of ink?
We’ve always used a combination of Waterman and Lamy pens and generally refill them with black ink – and if we want to spice up the colours Windsor & Newton do a great range of glass-bottled coloured drawing inks for a dip pen, and Diamine do an outstanding range of coloured fountain pen inks!
We hope you find these tips for reducing plastic in your small business useful – and if you’d like some more help to consider the environmental impact of your small business on this planet, please give us a call and we can see what we can do to help! We offer Small Business Coaching and Mentoring support as well as day-to-day business support and marketing assistance.
Alison is the owner and Director of Serenity VA and provides Business & Marketing services to clients across the globe. For more information see www.serenityva.co.uk Or give us a call! We are always happy to discuss how we can help you and your business!