Sustainability at work man and woman looking at laptop
Employee recycling plastic

Tips for Developing Sustainability in the Workplace

Every employer should consider the environment when cultivating a workplace for their staff. 

Sustainability in the workplace is not only kinder to the planet, but to people too. The effects of a greener, cleaner place of work on staff wellbeing, among other things, are bounteous. 

While knowing how to transform a place of work into a sustainable, productive environment may at first seem daunting, it’s much easier than you’d think. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and we aren’t asking for an oasis of sustainability to appear overnight.

Sometimes taking the initiative and making small-scale changes is the way forward. So, follow the steps below for a more sustainable workplace and, in turn, a better business.

1. Question everything

As a business owner, do you know how ‘sustainable’ your company’s current processes are? 

Are there some things that have always been done the same way but could be carried out much more efficiently and sustainably?

When it comes to sustainability, a great place to start is a workplace audit. Assess your current processes (recycling, consumption, water usage, electricity usage, carbon footprint, waste to landfill rates) and see where you’re at.

From here, it will be much easier to identify the weak areas in the workplace and build upon them with focused campaigns. 

2. Take responsibility for your waste

On the whole, businesses aren’t always the best at recycling — especially when it's cheaper to send everything to landfill. But how good are your staff at correctly disposing of waste?

Do your employees actively recycle? Do your staff know how to be eco-conscious when working from home? Are products wasted that could still be used? How much food waste is there in the office?

Creating a zero-waste culture is a surefire way to help your workplace move towards greater sustainability. Investing in a set of recycling bins for core areas in the office is one way to achieve this. Another way is through educating your staff on the importance of recycling or perhaps even providing initiatives. 

That’s the small-scale waste handled. But what about the larger-scale rubbish? Things like ink cartridges and other electronic goods are notoriously poorly disposed of, damaging the environment and often ending up in fly-tipping sites and at landfill. In 2019 alone, there were 53.6 million metric tonnes of E-waste generated globally, much of which will have been produced by businesses. 

Remember, from the minute you bring a product such as a laptop or a printer into the workplace, to its final resting place, your company is responsible for it! So do your research using sites like Terra Cycle or your local council’s site and find out where to dispose of specialist waste. 

E-waste at landfill
3. Consume with conscience 

Think about the products your organisation uses and consider whether they are sustainable or not. Apply this scrutinous thinking to any products you have to bulk buy for the workplace and switch to a more sustainable alternative. Here are a few ideas:

Using packaging as an example (because it's what we’re good at), switching to a recyclable alternative in the workplace could actually save your business money in the long run due to the tax on plastic packaging. You can read more about the recent changes to packaging here

By switching to more eco-friendly alternatives, you’ve already begun fostering a more sustainable culture in the workplace.

Checkout at bakery
4. Source local

Reduce your organisation’s carbon footprint easily by looking nearby for the resources you require in the workplace. 

If you're a company that provides food for its staff, bring in a local caterer or purchase from a small business around the corner if you can. Not only does this reduce carbon emissions by cutting back on the transportation of goods, but it helps to forge strong relationships in the community you work in.

Office chairs to be recycled
5. Repurpose old equipment

Fostering a culture of sustainability in the workplace can really be as easy as ‘The Three R’s!.

Hammering home ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ every once in a while among staff can really pay off. A great waste management technique is to actually distribute excess resources or ‘outdated’ equipment among employees. 

Offering any spares or equipment deemed too old for company use to staff is an excellent way to give things a new life. What’s more, the workplace itself could become an area for the exchange of second-hand goods. This can be achieved by setting up clothes and book drives at work, especially in post-COVID offices where more and more people mingle in shared spaces. 

Putting it all together…

Through a combination of some, if not all, of the tips above, developing sustainability in the workplace will seem like a breeze. For more workplace inspiration, read through the blogs on our site. Or, if you’d like to source some sustainable packaging for your place of work, get in touch with our experts.

14 March 2022