Reducing plastics in our offices
The scale and severity of the global impact of plastics pollution on marine life, the food chain and ultimately human health has culminated in a widespread call to action – from international organisations, the UN, the UK Government – and our own people.
In response, we’ve taken an ambitious approach to radically reducing plastic consumption in our 23 UK offices, employing a firm-wide strategy to cut single-use plastics across our workplaces.
By engaging stakeholders at every level, building a powerful sustained communications campaign and fostering highly collaborative partnerships with our supply chain partners we’re taking direct, positive, meaningful action – and inspiring others across our global network to follow.
Truly embedding a long-term operational and cultural shift away from plastics in the workplace requires a cohesive, firm-wide approach.
So in January 2018 we assembled key stakeholders in our value chain to review practices, collaborate, devise and implement viable best-practice solutions and establish sustainability principles.
Led by EY’s Environment Manager, we conducted a full review of plastic items in all workplace functions, focussing initially on the rapid elimination of high volume single-use plastics for maximum impact.
What we’ve achieved so far
Our approach has enabled the adoption of environmentally and financially sustainable initiatives that eliminated 91.3% of single-use plastic consumable products in the first 8 months of the project.
Measures so far include:
Switching 1.2 million plastic catering consumables (for example, cutlery, food packaging) to biodegradable alternatives.
Replacing 6.5 million plastic and paper-based disposable cups from our working floors with reusable cups and bottles.
Encouraging our people to bring their reusable cups when they buy hot drinks from our coffee shops by charging for disposable ones and donating a portion of the profit to a marine conservation charity.
Sourcing non-plastic alternative products and switching from new to reconditioned products where available.
Eliminating non-essential plastic items and branded plastic carrier bags, and switching to biodegradable packaging.
Developing a sustainable meetings guide for event organisers.
In October 2018, our actions were recognised when we won Footprint’s Waste2Zero award for Best Waste Management Project (non-food) and were runners up in the Best Waste Prevention Project (non-food) category
We’re now looking to address all remaining single-use plastic products. We’re also continually evaluating new plastic-free products and process innovations coming to market for potential use in our workplaces, with examples under consideration including:
- Installation of ‘reverse vending’ machines in restaurants and coffee shops to encourage recycling of plastic bottles, including those bought outside the office
- Innovative edible food and drink packaging products made from plant-based materials such as seaweed
- Developments in anaerobic digestion processes to enable separate collection of high volumes of plant-based biodegradable food packaging waste from our sites.