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11 Innovative Ways To Reduce Plastic Waste

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September 14, 2022

When people think about pollution, they often picture smokestacks spewing black smoke into the sky or a river filled with trash. But there is another form of pollution that is often hidden from view: plastic waste.

Every year, millions of tons of plastic are produced with less than 10% of it actually being recycled, and much of it ends up in the oceans or in landfills. Unlike other materials, plastic never completely breaks down; it just gets smaller and smaller over time, but it never completely disappears.

And as it breaks down, it releases harmful chemicals into the environment, including bisphenol A (BPA) and PS oligomer. These chemicals can contaminate our water and soil, and they can also enter the food chain. In fact, studies have shown that we are now ingesting microplastics - tiny pieces of plastic that we cannot even see.

So what can we do about this problem?

One solution is to reduce our reliance on plastic. We can use reusable bags when we go shopping, for example, and we can choose products that are not packaged in plastic. We can also recycle the plastic we do use.

But even these solutions will only make a dent in the problem; we need to do more if we want to protect our planet for future generations.

What does the current plastic waste situation look like?

11 Innovative Ways To Reduce Plastic Waste

Waste generation rates are soaring high in the US even as recycling rates are drastically falling back, from as much as 8.7% in 2018 to 5-6% in 2020 according to the EPA.

The US lacks the basic infrastructure to regulate efficient waste management resulting in more than half of its entire plastic waste being exported to China and Turkey. With the recent plastic import ban from other countries, the US is now forced to deal with its own plastic waste generation.

The main source of plastic waste in the US is the containers and packaging industry with a peaking tonnage of over 14.5 million tons in 2018. Other products include bags, plastic wrap, plastic bottles and jars, durable plastic containers, plastic straws, plastic utensils, and medical items.

Even plastic resin and reusable produce bags account for plastic waste since they behave like plastic when left to degrade.

The US is a leading source of the world's plastic pollution crisis

For more than 30 years, the US has been exporting its waste, and the year 2016 marked US's waste input to the coastal sector as the highest in the world, at 0.51-1.45 million tonnes!

The mismanaged waste accounted for illegally dumped waste, littered waste, and mismanaged waste in the importing country.

Further, the contamination of commercial waste makes it complicated to recycle waste effectively. Simply reducing plastic waste or asking people to reduce your plastic waste isn't going to cut it.

People need to wise up and begin adopting serious measures like auditing how much plastic waste is being generated by their businesses and how much of it can actually be cut down.

Why is plastic consumption a global problem?

Plastic waste is a global problem

There's no doubt that plastic is incredibly useful. It's strong, durable, and easy to mold into just about any shape. It's used in everything from packaging to construction to medical devices. However, plastic also has a major downside: it doesn't break down.

Every bit of plastic waste generated and produced still exists in some form, whether it's in a landfill, the ocean, or floating in the air as microplastics. And as the amount of plastic produced each year continues to increase, so does the environmental damage it causes.

Plastic pollution is a global problem because it doesn't just stay where it's produced. Wind and water can carry plastic long distances, meaning that even countries with little or no plastic production are affected by pollution.

For example, plastics found in the ocean have been shown to contain harmful chemicals that can work their way up the food chain and end up in the seafood we eat. In addition, microplastics are often mistaken for food by small animals, leading to starvation and death.

As the problem of plastic pollution continues to grow, it's more important than ever to find ways to reduce plastic waste consumption and promote sustainable recycling. Otherwise, we risk doing irreparable damage to our planet and its inhabitants.

How can businesses do their bit and reduce plastic waste?

1. Conduct a waste audit

Every business creates waste, whether it's paper, plastic, food scraps, or something else. And while it's important to dispose of this waste properly, it's even more important to try to reduce the amount of waste your business creates in the first place.

One way to do this is by conducting a waste audit. This involves taking a close look at everything your business throws away and seeing where you can make changes.

Maybe you could switch to paper straws instead of plastic straws, or start composting food scraps.

By taking steps to reduce your business's waste, you'll not only be helping the environment, but you'll also be saving money on disposal fees.

2. Avoid contaminating recyclable waste

Recycling is not just good for the environment, but it can also save your company money on waste disposal costs. However, you may not be aware that the way in which you recycle can also have an impact on the environment.

For example, if you contaminate the sorted recyclable waste with food waste or other non-recyclable items, it will ultimately end up in a landfill.

In addition, contaminated recyclable waste is often less valuable than uncontaminated waste, meaning that your company may receive lower payments from the recycling company.

As a result, it is important to ensure that your employees are properly trained in how to recycle correctly. By taking these simple steps, you can help to reduce plastic waste and contribute to a more sustainable future.

3. Consider lunch breaks where you can utilize eco-friendly options

If you are looking to reduce the amount of plastic waste produced by your business, begin by offering eco-friendly options for lunch and snack breaks.

This could include providing reusable silverware and dishes or offering discounts at local cafes that use recyclable or compostable packaging. You could also encourage employees to bring their own lunch in reusable containers.

By taking these small steps, you can help to reduce your company's impact on the environment and set a positive example for other businesses to follow.

4. Have dairy products delivered in glass containers/bottles

There are numerous ways businesses can help to reduce plastic waste. One way is to have dairy products delivered in glass containers and bottles.

Glass is a highly recyclable material, and it can be used over and over again without losing its quality. Plus, it's much less likely to end up in landfills than plastic.

As more businesses make the switch to glass packaging, the effort will help make a dent in the amount of plastic waste that's produced each year.

5. Go on an environment-conscious employee trip to clean beaches/lakes/rivers

The pollution of our oceans has reached a crisis point, and businesses need to do their part to reduce plastic waste. One way businesses can take action is by organizing an environment-conscious beach/lake/river cleaning trip for their employees.

This is a great team-building activity that will also help to protect the environment. Employees can work together to pick up trash and remove debris from the shoreline. By taking just a few hours out of the workweek to clean up a local body of water, businesses can make a big impact in the fight against ocean pollution.

6. Shop sustainably and in bulk for office cafeteria snacks

Businesses can play a big role in reducing plastic waste by being mindful of the products they purchase for their office cafeterias.

Individually wrapped snacks generate a lot of unnecessary waste, so businesses should consider shopping for bulk items or snacks that come in recyclable or compostable packaging instead. There are many sustainable options available that are just as convenient and affordable as conventional snacks.

By making eco-friendly choices for their office cafeteria, businesses can help to reduce plastic waste and create a more sustainable workplace.

7. Initiate a zero-waste theme for a day in a month

Reducing plastic waste can seem like a daunting task, but there are a number of small changes that businesses can make to start making a difference.

One simple way to reduce plastic waste is by initiating a zero-waste theme for a day. This can involve a number of steps, such as providing customers with reusable bags, eliminating plastic straws, and avoiding the use of disposable cups and plates.

While it may require some extra planning, a zero-waste day can be a great way to raise awareness about the issue of plastic waste and show customers that your business is committed to making a difference.

8. Travel sustainably when on office trips

When it comes to business travel, the environmental impact of all those airplane flights and hotel stays can add up quickly. But there are some simple steps that businesses can take to reduce their carbon footprint and travel more sustainably.

One way to do this is to encourage employees to use public transportation or carpool when possible. Shooting for direct flights instead of making multiple stops can also help, as can offset carbon emissions from flights.

When it comes to accommodation, try to book rooms in eco-friendly hotels that have sustainable practices in places, such as using energy-efficient lighting and recycling programs.

And finally, think about ways to reduce plastic waste while traveling, such as carrying a reusable water bottle and avoiding single-use toiletries. By making some small changes, businesses can go a long way toward reducing their environmental impact when traveling.

Promote plastic-free campaigns

9. Address plastic-free changes when conducting business campaigns

As a business owner, you’re always looking for ways to reduce waste and be more efficient. And one way to do that is to cut down on the amount of plastic your business uses. But it’s not as easy as just using less plastic.

You also need to create awareness about the problem of plastic pollution and what your business is doing to reduce its impact. One way to do this is to promote plastic-free changes when conducting business campaigns.

For example, you could switch from using plastic bags to reusable bags or offer discounts for customers who bring their own reusable cups or containers. By taking these steps, you’ll not only reduce your business’s impact on the environment, but you’ll also set a good example for other businesses to follow.

10. Promote the need to dress sustainably when in the office

Businesses can reduce the amount of plastic waste produced each year by making some simple changes to their office culture. One way to do this is by promoting sustainable fashion.

This can be done by encouraging employees to wear clothing made from sustainable materials, such as organic cotton or hemp. Another way to promote sustainable fashion in the office is by offering discounts on eco-friendly clothing brands.

Additionally, businesses can host events and workshops on sustainable fashion and provide resources on where to find sustainable clothing options. By taking these steps, businesses can play a role in reducing plastic waste while also helping to educate and engage their employees on the importance of sustainability.

11. Opt for cardboard or paper usage more than plastic usage

Opting for cardboard and paper instead of plastic whenever possible is a great way to reduce your business's carbon footprint. Plus, it's often more cost-effective to use cardboard and paper than plastic.

There are a number of simple things you can do to reduce your business's plastic waste. For example, switch to using paper towels in the break room instead of plastic ones. Use recycled cardboard whenever possible.

And encourage your employees to bring their own reusable water bottles to work. Every little bit helps! So make the switch today and start reducing your business's plastic waste.

How can Haulla help businesses with the mission to reduce plastic waste?

Dealing with plastic waste is not a cheap venture no matter how rewarding it may be. However, when you've taken the stance to reduce plastic waste from your premises, Haulla is at your service, helping you make savings at every step of waste collection.

As the cheapest waste collection service for businesses in Texas, Maryland, California, Arizona, and other states, Haulla can help you manage commercial wastes including plastics. We are committed to providing the most affordable and convenient waste management solution for businesses.

We offer a reliable pick-up service and our prices are very competitive with more than satisfying customer support. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your business recycle its plastic waste efficiently.