Anyone Can Do It

Sustainability is increasingly coming into focus. Guidelines and legal requirements, but also image reasons, drive companies to act. How do they implement their sustainability strategies?

Conscious handling of resources is important, even in the office day-to-day. Source: Visual Generation - iStock

Conscious handling of resources is important, even in the office day-to-day. Source: Visual Generation – iStock

Pressure is mounting: Legal frameworks and the ever-increasing demands of society for more sustainability are forcing companies to act, making the development of companies’ own sustainability strategies essential. But how do larger companies react, and what do they do specifically? Beverage manufacturer Coca-Cola, for example, is considered the world’s largest plastic polluter according to a waste count by the ‘Break Free From Plastic’ (BFFP) movement in 2018. BFFP collected a total of 187,851 plastic pieces across 42 countries, of which 9,216 originated from the beverage manufacturer. PepsiCo (5,750 pieces), Nestlé (2,950) and Danone (1,843) rounded out the top four.

So-called marine plastics can be used in the production of food-grade PET bottles. Photo: istock - Narvikk

So-called marine plastics can be used in the production of food-grade PET bottles. Photo: istock – Narvikk

Surveys like this put even large corporations such as Coca-Cola under great pressure to act. Accordingly, their current sustainability report states that the company is already setting things in motion. In addition to water consumption, sustainability in agriculture and gender diversity, the beverage giant’s sustainability agenda also features the global ‘World Without Waste’ campaign: Among other things, this includes ensuring its packaging materials are 100 percent recyclable by 2025. By 2030, it is planned that the company will use at least 50 percent recycled material in the production of new packaging.

While there are large differences between countries in terms of packaging reuse rates, Coca-Cola is also active in this space. An average of 58 percent of cans and bottles are refilled, collected or recycled worldwide. This figure is 8 percent in Indonesia and 35 percent in Australia. At the other end of the spectrum, there is Japan with 92 percent and Germany with 98 percent. Another measure is the ‘Zero Waste Cities’ program. This scheme intends to make Thessaloniki the first zero-waste city in Greece. As part of the program, the online platform ‘Print your City’ was launched. This allows residents to name useful objects for the city, which are then made from plastic waste using a 3D printer. Zero Waste Cities is to be rolled out in other cities across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.

Setting an example of sustainability

Restaurant chain McDonald’s has also set itself a number of sustainability goals, including committing to manufacturing all packaging from 100 percent recycled, renewable or certified material by 2025. In addition, the fast food restaurant chain intends to reduce CO2 emissions per ton of product in the supply chain by 31 percent by 2030. In order to achieve the company’s self-imposed goals, the fast-food giant brings together executives from various function areas throughout the company. They are responsible for implementing the strategies. Each national subsidiary reports to the global sustainability team. “Since aspects of sustainability are integrated into each and every business process and decision, we practice sustainability every day, both in our administrative operations as well as in our restaurants. Strategies that contribute to the firm’s global sustainability goals are developed actively, in our business operations,” states the sustainability report. This allows strategies to be exemplified by senior executives and executed together with the employees.

7 Tips for More Sustainable Office Work

Printing and Copying: Avoid if possible. Should it be necessary, several pages can be printed on one sheet in many cases. Double-sided printing also saves additional pages. Misprints can serve as scrap paper.

Lighting: Only switch on when needed. Motion detectors can help to control lighting in a convenient and energy efficient manner.

Drinks: Reusable thermal cups for hot drinks as well as water bottles and carafes replace to-go cups and environmentally harmful disposable containers.

Food: The best way to bring your lunch to work is in a reusable container. Anyone who goes out to buy food should avoid bringing back food packaging with them.

Recycling: Garbage should be separated as much as possible. Ideally, various waste bins would be made available for this.

Saving Energy: Use the energy saving function on computers, put your PC into sleep mode during your lunch break and switch off screens when they are no longer being used – temporarily or at the end of the day. Energy can also be saved in the kitchen, for example by filling the kettle with only as much water is needed.

Think and Share: If you have an idea as to how your workplace could make its procedures more sustainable, share this with your colleagues and managers.


Various approaches

When it comes to implementation, the very creation of sustainable frameworks by the employer also has an impact on the daily routines of the employees. These include, for example, energy-efficient construction methods, the use of ‘green’ electricity and the installation of photovoltaic systems. Motion detectors also help save electricity. Environmentally friendly tools and materials also provide important contributions and motivation to added sustainability in everyday work. Even just the paper used in an office can make a big difference: According to the German Federal Environment Agency, around 50 liters of water and 5 kilowatt hours of energy are used to produce one kilogram of primary-fiber paper – approximately 200 sheets. Producing the same amount of recycled paper uses around 50 percent less energy and only 33 percent of the amount of water. In addition, according to the Federal Environment Agency, computers should be used for as long as possible, and both energy efficiency and energy consumption should be checked before buying a new device. Energy-saving computers can be recognized by the ‘Blue Angel’ environmental label for computers, or the EU Ecolabel. Even minor things such as waste separation help make the office day-to-day more sustainable. With such frameworks in place, it is easier for employees to monitor and support the company’s sustainability goals.

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