Going Green at work: easy steps to make your workplace more environmentally friendly

Sonya Cragg, Head of Sales and Marketing at Countrystyle Recycling, explains how business leaders can help improve the environment by making workplace changes that benefit both employees and your business.

The emphasis on recycling and eco-friendly practices for commercial and industrial waste is increasing – putting an increasing focus on corporate responsibility. In the UK Statistics On Waste Report (updated Feb 2019) published by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA),  the UK generated 41.1 million tonnes of commercial and industrial (C&I) waste in 2016, of which 33.1 million tonnes was generated in England alone.  Businesses are legally required to coincide with enforced legal requirements, governmental schemes and duty of care.

However, there is also increased social pressure for businesses to adopt greener practices and be sustainable moving forward – and research shows than more than 1 in 10 employees have considered changing their job because of the impact their employers are having on the environment.  Here’s some steps employers can take which will help make your workplace greener and ease the adoption process of environmentally friendly practices.

Introduce a Green Team to boost sustainability

By introducing a green or sustainability team, you can gain the support of multiple employees who are tasked with dedicating their time and knowledge to push recycling throughout the workplace, enforcing recycling programmes and initiatives to make recycling a responsibility for all. The role of a ‘green team’ can also go as far as sourcing the most eco-friendly products/resources to be used within the office as well as introducing training, with the possibility of outsourcing to build relationships with other businesses within the eco/recycling sector.

Enforce energy efficiency in a positive way

With the backing of the green team, putting measures in place to enforce energy efficiency can be easy and fun. Make your employees aware of turning off power sources, sockets and lights when not in use and also enhance this as part of your end of hours closing routine. This seems simple and will not only save you money on your electricity but will hopefully make employees more mindful at home.

You can also make it a challenge to fill recycling bins. Within teams, add a recycling ‘lookout’, keeping an eye out for anyone who might be breaking the rules.

Invest in renewable energy sources

Wind turbines and Solar panels are becoming more present in surrounding homes, countryside and coastlines. The popularity of solar panels has increased over the years with schemes such as the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) introduced by the government enabling a faster return on your investment. Although this came to an end in April 2019, the cost to fit solar panels has decreased and it is still worth researching other schemes such as the upcoming Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) for homes and small businesses. On a smaller scale, it is recommended to invest in suppliers with an environmentally conscious ethos. 

Improve efficiency while maintaining office temperatures

While you are reinventing your new eco-friendly office, it might be time to look into how you maintain your office temperatures. Depending on the scale of your building and whether you provide central heating in the winter months as well as air conditioning in the summer months, this maintenance could be costing you a small fortune. Again it might seem a big outlay to upgrade current units but in the long run, new eco models will save money on efficiency as well as provide a more eco-friendly solution. While spending time researching your energy providers, find a provider that will aim to source carbon neutral.

Use office greenery to boost productivity  

Research consistently finds adding plants to the workplace decreases stress and increases productivity. A UK study found bringing plants into the workplace increased productivity by 15%. Meanwhile, a US study found 10% of employee sick days could be explained by a lack of nature and natural light in the office.

You could enhance your office space to not only look more modern but environmentally effective. Open up your office with natural light to reduce the need for electric-powered lighting throughout the day. Also, why not encourage employees to decorate their workspace with real plants, bringing some real green to the office and also helping the quality of air.

Go paperless

With the prevalence of email and online interactions becoming the desired method of communication, moving towards a paperless office seems to be a logical step. Encourage customers to opt for paperless transactions, statements and invoices as well as promoting online websites instead of catalogues can help towards a future with less paper.

Promote green commuting

In amongst your green team’s initiatives, why not incentivise eco-friendly commuting into work?

These could reward employees for walking into work, car-sharing, biking or taking the bus. For those where this isn’t possible, maybe setting up introductions and enabling car sharing could be a good alternative to share costs and lower emissions. With the uptake and affordability of electric vehicles, it might be time to look at supplying an electric car charge point within any allocating parking you might offer. The government currently offers incentives to install work-based chargers such as The Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS), in the form of a voucher towards the upfront costs of purchase and installation. Looking to the future, this will also be a good plus point to offer to customers/visitors to your workplace.

In summary, there are many ways in which organisations can look to become greener, but the greatest success will come when this is embedded in the culture of the organisation. Collective responsibility for being more environmentally conscious in the day to day operations of the business will ensure that everyone is working towards the same objectives, and all can enjoy the rewards of becoming a more eco-friendly operation.


About the Author

Sonya Cragg is Head of Sales and Marketing at Countrystyle Recycling – a dynamic privately owned resource management and waste recycling business operating across Kent. With an extensive with a fleet of over 120 vehicles ranging from Artics, RoRos, Dustcarts and Skip lorries; it keeps a strong track record of spotting opportunities, understanding the market and driving innovative solutions. Countrystyle operates with a strong landfill avoidance ethos, with facilities equipped to handle various waste streams including but not limited to – organic waste, paper, plastic, cardboard, wood and handling general waste material to be processed into RDF. For more information, please visit www.countrystylerecycling.co.uk