Every year, on the occasion of World Environment Day, the United Nations proposes a theme to champion by individuals, enterprises and communities for preserving and improving the environment. While this year’s theme is Air pollution, India last year woke up to a critical theme: Beat Plastic Pollution.
Both, Air Pollution and Plastic Pollution are rising at an alarming rate across the globe. But, taking one step at a time as an individual, corporate, country is the only way to make a significant impact. India Inc. with its growing size and ability to play influencer has the means to affect change by influencing the behaviour of its stakeholders to reduce our plastic footprint. While contribution to plastic pollution in the office space is at an all-time rise, the means to curb the same can also prove to be highly effective if implemented in a macro format by these very corporations. The bottomline via a trickle-down effect will have a much higher impact if corporate-wide policies are adopted to reduce our Plastic Footprint.
Tips To Reduce Plastic Pollution
One of the most effective ways to begin curbing Plastic pollution is from reducing to completely rejecting the usage of single-use plastic in offices. Here are some simple solutions to reduce your company’s Plastic Pile-up and eliminate single-use plastics from your environment with effective solutions.
In the boardroom
Boardrooms are often the first place one would find single-use plastic water bottles for meetings. On an average, even a medium enterprise will have 4-5 boardrooms with approximately 10 people attending at least two meetings a day. This alone amounts to daily use of disposable bottles to over a hundred a day and thousands per month. Replacing these with a covered clear glass of water can make a huge difference.
At our own office, we have never served water in plastic bottles. All our meeting rooms contain our iconic vision glass covered with a petri dish serving as a cover to ensure that the water stays clean. The petri dish is then used as a coaster when drinking from the glass. After the awareness within India Inc. against plastic kicked in, we have effectively introduced this solution across various companies ranging from medical conglomerates to large investment banks.
At the desktops
It is easy for an organisation to provide the employees with a stainless steel/glass bottle to keep on their desks, hence reducing the use of disposable plastic glasses at work for water. This does not only save significant supply costs but also makes employees prudent to use safe and hygienic reusable bottles to consume water.
In the cafeteria
Speaking of disposable cups, encouraging the employees to use insulated or Opal glass mugs to consume tea and coffee enables safe and hygienic consumption of hot beverages. Most of the organisations with cafes use melamine or plastic plates. Both in contact with hot food are bad for health as they leach chemicals into the food. Switching to steel and glass containers for food makes the overall usage of plastic considerably reduced in the office cafeteria.
Such simple practices in a corporate can result in a big ripple effect to reduce plastic pollution. Each employee will be taking some or most of these small changes back home as aspirational best practices and soon enough it will lead to significant lifestyle changes trickling down from the organisation to the employees, their families and so on.
The logic is simple. For every product made of single-use plastic, there is almost always a reusable alternative that we can turn to. So, the next time you use a disposable plastic container in your office, think of how it can end up in your environment and work towards building India Inc. as a frontrunner to curb plastic pollution in our country.
Beyond best practices in the office space – India Inc. also needs to wake up to the larger issues of plastic consumption and waste attributed to product packaging. Even for corporate events held in hotels. It is incumbent upon us to insist that the hotels provide an eco-friendly solution in place of plastic water bottles. If we as corporate consumers insist on eco-friendly options, we can create a demand for better solutions from mineral water manufacturers as well.
India’s consumption of plastic amounts to approximately 12.8 million tonnes annually. While an estimated 5.6 million tonnes of plastic waste is disposed annually, 43% of this is also attributable to packaging. Volumes of plastics coming up for processing are expected to grow even further.
The good news is that since the 2018 drive, a lot of modern Indian corporates are waking up to the issue and pledging to reduce their plastic usage across the board. Malls and hotels are going single-use plastic-free. Beverage companies like Coca Cola are bringing their focus back to reusable glass bottles which are completely recycled back from the market. We ourselves at Borosil have helped several corporate houses with office solutions to significantly reduce plastic waste.
The idea is not that plastic is bad. Its use and abuse is what has made it an environmental hazard. We must find alternatives and solutions which are sustainable and build towards India Inc. standing for innovation and green solutions.
Views of the author are personal and do not necessarily represent the website’s views. This column appears in the print edition of The CSR Journal. To grab a copy, click here.
Priyanka Kheruka is Brand Head at Borosil Glass Works. The Wharton graduate has led Borosil through her vision and initiatives to transform beyond their pioneering capabilities in glassware to a trusted consumer products brand across kitchen to table solutions. Kheruka truly lives by the Borosil legacy of developing safe, healthy and hygienic products.
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The CSR Journal Team