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Make your business a driver for positive environmental change

World Environment Day 2022: Is your business doing its part to protect our planet?

What is World Environment Day? 

Since its conception in 1973, World Environment Day, led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP),  has grown into the largest global platform for environmental outreach in the world. With millions of people participating from over 150 countries, this year’s event, hosted by Sweden, #OnlyOneEarth, calls for collective, transformative action on a global scale to celebrate, protect and restore our planet.

The #OnlyOneEarth campaign highlights the fact that we are using the equivalent of 1.6 Earths1 and that the estimated costs of adapting to climate change continue to rise and could reach $280-$500 billion per year by 2050.2 With global temperatures rising and ecosystem degradation affecting an estimated 40% of the population, it’s more important than ever for everyone from governments, individuals and businesses to make positive changes.

What can I do for World Environment Day? 

According to the UN, the energy, food, and transport sectors each contribute about 20% of lifestyle emissions.3 There are endless ways each and every one of us can do our part to help reduce our impact on Earth’s resources. Company leaders are the ones who can drive a sustainably-minded economic transformation, not only in the products and services they produce but also holistically ingrained into their culture. But whether you are the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or a junior employee celebrating your first day on the job, the role each and every person plays within a business is essential in driving sustainable change. 

Not to mention, organisations that ignore their impact on the environment alienate both their customers and workforce. Statistics show that people are looking for more sustainable businesses, with 65% of consumers saying they want to buy from purpose-driven brands that advocate for sustainability.4 

Our goal is to make sustainable business practices a default option within every company’s office, facility, warehouse etc. Below we have outlined some steps your business can take to start being more sustainable.

1. Audit your business and set sustainability goals

First, take time to understand how the different areas of your business impact the environment. Then, identify any key problem areas and plan a strategy to implement quick fixes and long term goals you can start working towards. 

2. Set up an environmental committee

To keep your business on track with what you want to achieve, you can set up an environmental committee to hold yourself accountable to the defined strategy and goals. Businesses such as Salesforce, Nike, Dell, Patagonia and IKEA have all set ambitious environmental goals within their company to drive influential sustainability initiatives.5 A study from 2015 found that creating board environmental committees was effective in helping companies improve their corporate environmental performance (CEP) and while the presence of a senior-level environmental manager positively moderates this relationship, it is not effective on its own.6

3. Hold sustainability training sessions

Make sustainability a part of your company culture by offering training sessions to educate your employees on how to live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. Not everyone may understand all the little ways they can make a big difference! 

4. Organise office-sponsored volunteer days 

Give your employees designated volunteer days off. Either offer your employees to schedule volunteer opportunities on their own or organise volunteering days as team building activities. On these days you can clean up litter, build community gardens or help at a wildlife trust, the opportunities are endless!  By doing so you can foster a sense of community within your team while also doing a bit for the planet. 

5. Conserve wasted energy by having light sensors and making sure all computers and appliances are off each night

According to a report in 2020 by the Green Alliance, the energy being wasted every year by a few thousand office buildings across five UK cities (London, Manchester, Bristol, Leeds and Birmingham) could power over 100,000 homes.6 This wasted energy is damaging the environment and wasting a significant amount of money. Artificial intelligence energy optimisation systems already on the market could cut energy usage by as much as 14% in commercial buildings with payback in just a few months.7

6. Offer more plant-based options for your employees

80% of biodiversity loss can be attributed to food systems where 80% of all agricultural land is used for livestock, despite them providing only 20% of calories.

If everyone in the UK switched out just one red meat meal a week to plant-based, greenhouse gas emissions could be cut by up to 8.4% - that’s the equivalent of 16 million cars getting taken off the road! 8 
Consider offering more vegan and vegetarian options to your employees to encourage them to switch to more plant-based options. Here is a helpful chart to contextualise how much animal products impact the environment.

7. Encourage cycle-to-work schemes

In the UK, the cycle to work scheme can allow your employees to get a new bike and accessories, tax-free. Cycling is the most environmentally friendly/cost-effective way to commute into the office. Consider either implementing this scheme or just encouraging your employees to cycle in if they can! Read more about the scheme here.

8. Offer work from home days 

The most eco-friendly way to commute is to not commute at all! By offering your employees the opportunity to work from home a few days a week you can not only help your employees create a better work-life balance but also help protect the planet. 

9. Ship responsibly 

When ordering or shipping items for your business, plan ahead to cut down on multiple and rush deliveries. You can help reduce your business's carbon footprint by avoiding/or potentially hundreds of courier journeys and minimising emissions from transport.

10. Buy Zero Waste Boxes for your office recycling solutions

Zero Waste BoxTM offers a recycling solution for your business's hard-to-recycle rubbish. Recycle almost anything from your employees' plastic packaging and beverage capsules with our Breakroom Zero Waste BoxTM , your used office supplies thanks to the Office Supplies/Stationary box or even your used safety equipment with any of our PPE recycling boxes. All you have to do is fill the box up with your rubbish, and organise a collection via the prepaid label affixed to your box. UPS will come to pick up your recycling box and TerraCycle will handle the rest! Read more about how we recycle here.

11. Donate to ocean cleanups

As a business you can also contribute financially to organisations that are doing the groundwork to clean up our planet. Donate to nonprofits like the TerraCycle Global Foundation, who actively work to remove plastic from our waterways. In close partnership with local communities, they design river waste prevention, collection and recycling solutions in regions of the world suffering from heavily polluted waterways.

12. Learn more about adding responsible waste management practices into your business.

If as a company you feel like you could be doing more than just changing your office’s habits, contact us to discuss different ways your business can reduce its plastic waste strain on the environment. ​At TerraCycle, our mission is to eliminate the Idea of Waste®. Businesses, government entities, and people like you work with us globally to keep rubbish out of landfills or from incineration. Through collaboration and innovation, we’ve developed the world’s first solutions in everything from recycling to reuse. Contact us at zwb.europe@terracycle.com to learn more. 

Historic Milestone:

2022 is also a historic moment, marking 50 years since the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, seen as the first international environmental meeting that kickstarted a host of environmental agencies and global agreements.

If you would like to know more about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, please click the link here

Sources
  1. Becoming #GenerationRestoration: Ecosystem Restoration for People, Nature and Climate | UNEP - UN Environment Programme
  2. Adaptation Gap Report 2021
  3. The UN Campaign for Individual Action
  4. The Elusive Green Consumer 
  5. 10 Green Companies With Amazing Environmental Initiatives 
  6. The Role of Board Environmental Committees in Corporate Environmental Performance
  7. Office buildings are losing £60m in wasted energy every year
  8. Eating Vegan Once a Week Can Reduce Greenhouse Gases by 8.4% per Year

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