No matter how small or large your organisation, all businesses have a responsibility to manage their impact on the environment. For some businesses, this could be as basic as ensuring your paper recycling bin has clear signage. For others it could be ensuring that environmental hazards such as chemical spillages are carefully managed. A good environmental policy can support your business’ corporate social responsibility as well as reducing costs and ensuring the good health and safety of your workforce.
Well chosen signage can make all the difference to the attitudes and actions of your employees and help ensure that they are doing all they can to minimise waste and avoid risks with more dangerous waste products.
It is always preferable to avoid producing waste in the first place; signage encouraging employees to avoid printing out emails or unnecessary documents can prevent large amounts of paper being used. Contacting the senders of junk mail or returning their letters with “return to sender” written on the back can also help reduce the amount of paper that requires disposal.
It is also wise to remind people that many items can be reused. Folders and binders are often disposed of simply because they are already labelled. Encouraging re-use of these and old pieces of furniture (as long as they remain safe) can also help reduce the amount of waste produced.
Where recycling is required, make sure that your bins are clearly labelled to separate the different materials. This will help ensure that the recycling centre is able to get the maximum value from your papers, cans and plastics. It is also a good idea to position your bins nearest to the areas where the waste is produced; for example, paper recycling next to the photocopier or can recycling in your kitchen area.
There will inevitably be some things which you simply have to throw away, although signage to encourage employees to think about whether they are using the correct disposal method may help challenge some of the lazier attitudes. When there are items that must be sent to landfill, minimise risks by using safety signage for dangerous chemicals or other waste materials. As an employer, you have responsibility for ensuring both the safety of your workforce and that the material is disposed of correctly. Therefore ensure that there are warnings reminding people to wear gloves or eye protection where necessary.
A business that is considerate of the environment saves money, protects its employees and the planet.