In our work, especially with clients in the food ingredients sector, we have seen sustainability transform from “CSR light” to core business strategy over the last number of years. But is there any reason sustainability should be the reserve of multinationals and corporates? How can small businesses adopt the principles of sustainability – and make them work for their business? We decided to see if we could implement some initiatives that would lessen our material impact on the world and kick off our journey to sustainability. Our approach was to start narrow, be action-oriented, and try and get some quick wins on board by addressing behaviours that were wasteful. So, no better starting point than disposable coffee cups.
Globally it is estimated that 500 billion disposable cups are discarded to landfill or incineration every year.
That’s one million cups a minute, every hour of every day of every year. These cups are virtually impossible to recycle due to the combination of plastic and paper in their design, and in Ireland it is estimated that we dispose of over 200 million of these non-recyclable cups annually.
As an agency, sustainability is something we feel passionate about- some of the work we’re most proud of is in the Sustainability sector. Check out some of the work we did for Glanbia’s Open Source Dairy here.
So we decided, as an agency, to do something about this senseless waste, and contribute in some small way to the solution, rather than be part of the problem.
We removed the general waste bins entirely from the agency, and instead left two bins – one for dry recyclables and the other one for food waste for compost. Everyone was encouraged to take personal responsibility for their own non-recyclable / non-compostable rubbish.
It was tricky at first, and definitely eye-opening to see how much un-recyclable waste there still was. But we soon got the hang of it and within the first month, we had reduced our waste output by 75%.
This also significantly reduced our bin charges too!
We estimate that if continue these efforts, we will stop 4,420 disposable coffee cups heading to landfill this year. So a small number in the overall context, but it all adds up! We designed a poster to remind us all of what goes in the recycling bin, and what doesn’t – you can download a copy to print out here
The people who make the biggest difference are the ones who do the little things consistently
This website is a great resource if you’d like to find out more about going zero waste.
We’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on the issue – feel free to comment below or stay posted by subscribing to our newsletter