Guest Blog

7 Ways Small Businesses can Eliminate Plastic Waste

If your business is a restaurant consider switching to paper or stainless steel straws! Photo by  Danielle MacInnes  on  Unsplash

If your business is a restaurant consider switching to paper or stainless steel straws! Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

Guest Blog Post: Cloe Matheson

It’s more important than ever that businesses make the conscious effort to eliminate their plastic waste.  Large companies aren’t the only ones contributing to the world’s plastic problem – each small business can make a difference when it comes to plastic waste.

Cutting plastic usage from your business isn’t as challenging as many seem to think: you just have to rethink some usual ways of doing things.  Here are seven simple ways your business can eliminate its plastic waste:

Conduct a Waste Audit 

Conducting a waste audit is the first step to reducing plastic waste in your workspace.  A waste audit will give you a better understanding of the types and volume of plastic waste your office is producing.  This data will provide a clear focus for your reduction efforts and help you to determine the most effective course of action.

Photo by  Charles Koh  on  Unsplash

Photo by Charles Koh on Unsplash

Encourage the Use of Reusable Items

Your workspace shouldn’t need to use single-use plastic cups, bags, plates and cutlery.  If you haven’t already, encourage employees to use reusable items – think ceramic mugs, stainless steel water bottles and snack bags.  You could even put an official ban on single-use plastic in your office to ensure employees follow through with this.

Install a Water-Cooler

Single-use plastic bottles account for a vast amount of pollution worldwide.  To eliminate the use of plastic water bottles in your workplace, install a water cooler so that staff can refill their drinking glasses and reusable water-bottles with fresh water throughout the day. Want an even better solution? Consider putting a water filter on your kitchen tap if you have one.

Photo by  Mike Kenneally  on  Unsplash

Reduce Plastic in Office Coffee & Tea

Tea and coffee production create a lot of plastic waste, but you can take simple steps to minimize the waste generated in your workplace.  For example, most tea bags contain plastic.  Enjoy a plastic-free brew of loose-leaf tea, or support tea bag brands that avoid using plastic.  If you’re a coffee lover, find brands that offer coffee-beans in plastic-free packaging, or purchase in bulk. Don’t forget to compost the leftover leaves and coffee grinds!

Ask that Suppliers Use Less Plastic 

Suppliers often use a considerable amount of unnecessary packing when delivering goods to businesses. But you don’t have to let this be the norm in your company. If you are serious about becoming a plastic-free company, write a formal letter to your supplier expressing your concerns.  Find out if they can supply alternative products that eliminate plastic waste.  You could also ask if they can deliver goods with less wrapping and packing.  By speaking up about this, you may even cause a ripple effect of positive change amongst other suppliers and companies.

Encourage Staff to Bring Homemade Lunches

Large amounts of plastic waste often come from staff lunches, such as sandwich packaging and ready-made meals. Having proper food preparation and storage facilities in your office – such as high-quality, eco-friendly ovens, microwave ovens, and refrigerators – will enable staff to bring in food more often, and save them from going out and bringing back lunches wrapped in single-use packaging. Encourage staff to use these facilities as often as possible to reduce the waste generated in your workplace.

Implement Strict Recycling Rules

Even with the best efforts, your company may generate some plastic waste – which is why it’s so important to have strict recycling methods in place.  Ensure all your staff members understand the recycling rules in your office.  You could try sticking up some recycling posters as a simple reminder of the importance of recycling.

Cloe Matheson – Cloe is a freelance writer from Dunedin, New Zealand who is an advocate of a green, healthy lifestyle. She loves writing articles to inspire and motivate her readers, and has penned articles for local companies in New Zealand including the truck company, Fuso. You can check out more of her published work on Tumblr.

Guest Blog: Plastic Free July - Take the Challenge with TerraCycle

Written By: Basmah Ahmed, Business Development Manager, TerraCycle Canada.

Canada is lagging behind when it comes to strong federal policies on plastic reform. Though there have been initiatives launched by grass-roots organizations (as well as local towns, municipalities, and business owners), an extensive report by the three countries in the North American Free Trade Agreement suggests Canadian residences are generating more and more plastic waste. The country creates about 3.25 million tonnes of plastic waste (about 140,000 garbage trucks' worth) every year.

Aimed at encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the protection of the environment from plastic’s negative impacts, “Ending Plastic Pollution” was the theme of this World Oceans Day, as it was this year's World Environment Day, Earth Day and Earth Month. 

#PlasticFreeJuly aligns itself with global conversations on plastic, and TerraCycle has some tips to help you make better decisions in some of the places where plastic might still be clogging up your habits. 

1. At the store:

Start at the door and walk in with a reusable bag. Skip those pesky one-time use bags they offer in the aisles by collecting your fruits and veggies right into your cart as is, purchasing cloth bags, or making your own.  Pro tip: Always keep a spare bag in your purse, backpack or car so you are always prepared. This is a good rule for the mall, convenience store and other retail locations.

When looking at packaged food, there is often a familiar recycling symbol on a bottle, pouch, carton or tube. However, this triangle with arrows is not a “recycling number,” but a plastic resin identification number that only indicates what the material is made of, not if it's recyclable in your local program. 

Did you know that most black packaging, flexible plastic (like pouches and snack bags) and smaller plastic items (like cosmetics packaging), no matter what type of plastic, are not recyclable? This month, make an effort to check your local recycling site to learn what can be recycled in your area, and steer away from packaging that isn't on the list. In Toronto, where TerraCycle’s Canadian office is located, they've put together this super handy Waste Wizard. 

Buy in bulk whenever possible. Check out a local bulk store in your area, and bring your own jars or containers for your favourite snacks. Not only will you produce less waste, but you'll also have some pretty aesthetically pleasing food. (You know mason jars look great on the ‘gram!)

2. At a restaurant:

We all love eating out every once in a while, but with that sometimes comes Styrofoam, plastic utensils, tiny condiment pouches and more unrecyclable plastic packaging than is really necessary. The easiest way to avoid the mess is by first by trying to slow down and eat-in. Sourcing your ingredients from local farms, bakeries and other vendors reduces the packaging waste from prepared foods.

If you're truly on the run, be prepared by bringing your own container and cutlery. Asking your server to put your order in your own container can feel odd at first, but remember:  you're about to start an important dialogue with the restaurant on reducing waste. Some restaurants are already taking pledges to reduce plastic straws.  

3. Online: 

While cyberspace may seem an unlikely place to be “plastic-free,” one of the best ways to stay motivated and engaged in any movement is to have a community backing you up. Make a pledge, and hold yourself accountable on your favourite social media platforms by using the hashtag #PlasticFreeJuly. Learn new tips from some of the best zero wasters in the game and follow accounts such as PAREdown or YourEcoFriend.

Is a product that you love or use often not recyclable? Reach out to companies! Even if it's just one tweet, e-mail or phone call, let them know you care and want them to do better. 

4. At home and at work: 


This task is no easy one! Going plastic free means you're going to be making changes to things you may have been doing for years and have never noticed until now. Plastic delivers the goods we shop for online, the clothing we buy in-store, the smoothies we sip after a workout. Be prepared to give yourself lots of room to make mistakes, slip-up and forget before you phase out that plastic for good. 

So what do you do in the meantime? In celebration of #PlasticFreeJuly, we've put our Plastic Packaging Zero Waste Box™ on a special 20% off sale all month so that you can rest easy knowing that no matter how far you're able to push yourself this year, plastic has a place, and it’s not in our waterways and landfills.

Guest Blog: The Fight Against Ocean Plastic

Written By:  Jessica Panetta, Marketing Manager, TerraCycle Canada

Single-use straws picked up off one beach in Hamilton, Ontario.

Single-use straws picked up off one beach in Hamilton, Ontario.

Imagine it’s 2050, and there is more plastic in the ocean than fish. Scary, right? Unfortunately, this idea isn’t far from the projected reality we face today. Every year, 10–20 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans and waterways, and of the more than 300 million tons of new, virgin plastic produced globally per year, half of it is designed for single use. Landfilling and incineration, the preferred disposal methods for so-called “disposable” plastics, allow the proliferation of these discarded items into natural ecosystems.

Many of us are familiar with the image of soda can rings posing danger to marine animals from a couple decades ago, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. Microplastics create an estimated $13 billion a year in losses from damage to marine ecosystems (not to mention the severe degradation to natural capital suffered by animals and their habitats), as well as financial losses to fisheries and tourism.

Changing the perception of “single-use” plastics (and all plastics, for that matter) is needed to create and strengthen systems that will capture these materials for recycling, divert them from landfills, and decrease virgin production in lieu of more regenerative resource structures.

Head & Shoulders bottle made from beach plastic.

Head & Shoulders bottle made from beach plastic.

The global World Oceans Day is June 8 (originally celebrated at the urging of Canada in 1992), but every day is a good day to find and cultivate ways to engage communities and make resources for clean ocean actions accessible. My company TerraCycle teamed up with Procter & Gamble, one of the largest consumer goods companies in the world, to create bottles made with recycled beach plastic for Head & Shoulders (the #1 shampoo brand in the world) and Fairy (the UK’s #1 dishwashing brand) in Europe.

Seeing plastic waste for what it is, a nearly-indestructible, highly polluted manmade substance that requires a manmade solution, is the first step to reevaluating our dependence on it as a raw material, and thinking twice before throwing it in the trash. Creating a market for recycled plastic, especially beach plastic (difficult-to-recycle because of its exposure to contaminants and UV light, depreciation, and mixed material makeup), by integrating it into the production of products consumers buy every day is one way to do that.

These initiatives strive to create value for all plastic while raising awareness of plastic pollution, an issue is too large to tackle without help from large numbers. Engaging the public is crucial for significant change. A Greener Future, one of TerraCycle’s partners, involves the public through litter cleanups, educational programs and events.

Rochelle Byrne, A Greener Future's Executive Director, with two super-sacks full of beach plastic from Love Your Lake 2017.

Rochelle Byrne, A Greener Future's Executive Director, with two super-sacks full of beach plastic from Love Your Lake 2017.

One of its programs, Love Your Lake (now in its third year, May 26 – August 25) tackles the pollution in Lake Ontario head-on in over 100 locations, last year collecting 2 super-sacks (over 72,000 pieces of trash) worth of rigid plastic that was recycled through TerraCycle's Beach Plastic Cleanup Program.

Taking the time to educate oneself and others on the issues facing the safety and security of our oceans and waterways, including plastic pollution, is an important activity that carries an impact year-round. The website for the Government of Canada has an extensive World Oceans Day section with an overview of the observance, ways to get involved, and links to helpful resources on ocean monitoring, aquatic species at risk, fishing and environmental science.

No matter how far from the coast you live, World Oceans Day is a celebration to mobilize governments, businesses and everyday people around our connection to water and the ocean. This year’s theme and action focus of preventing plastic pollution highlights an issue we can all work to take action on year-round, and empowering oneself with the knowledge and awareness of things you can do will help to change the perceptions and habits that shape our world.

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We're giving away a Zero Waste Kit on each of our social media channels, and one through our website, click the buttons below or leave a comment on this blog post to enter. You may enter in all four locations .

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