|Many of us are well aware of the need to recycle, but have we become so used to hearing the case for recycling that we’re getting desensitised to it? And could small businesses be in a position to lead from the front on this issue and generate renewed interest in it among their employees? We ask these questions in light of a new report from the BBC, which revealed that despite efforts to encourage recycling, household waste has gone up in almost 2/3rds of council areas. Swindon saw a bigger increase than anywhere else in England, with annual average household waste jumping from 463kg in 2012-24 to 602kg this year. Many household habits easily transfer themselves to the workplace, but the reverse is also true, so we think it’s right to ask if businesses might be able to help stem this tide.
Commenting on the BBC’s findings, waste reduction charity WRAP acknowledged that recycling has become a “social norm” but warned that rates are starting to plateau. This was attributed to numerous factors, such as confusion over how certain materials should be disposed of and a lack of belief in any environmental benefit. Margaret Bates, a Professor of Sustainable Waste at the University of Northampton, also suggested that waste is rising because people are spending more again in the wake of the financial crisis. Of course, people make their own rules in their own homes, but they are subject to someone else’s rules when they are at work. Even the smallest businesses can encourage more eco-friendly behaviour among their staff and get them into habits that they will apply at home too.
Offer incentives for green behaviour
Promote the advantages
Use digital technology to cut waste
If employees are made conscious of key environmental issues at work day after day, it’s inevitable that they’ll start realising what savings can be made when they get home. But it needs to be done in a way that gives them a stake in the outcome. Hopefully, engaging people with the issue will lead to spiralling waste levels across the country tumbling down and an end to the apathy that’s hit the British public for far too long.
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