On an average work day, employees spend at least 8 hours in the office. Offices hence play a vital role in reducing waste, and companies should strive towards inculcating the importance of waste minimisation among their staff.
Companies can start to reduce waste in the office by introducing a BYO (Bring Your Own) Office Programme to encourage employees to play a part in reducing single-use plastic disposables, such as takeaway containers and cups, plastic bags, and disposables utensils and straws.
Employees will be encouraged to reduce their use of plastic disposables by adopting simple practices such as bringing their own reusable lunchboxes, bottles or cups, and bags for takeaway meals and drinks.
Here are the 5 steps to implement a BYO Office Programme:
1. Form a BYO team
The BYO team plays a crucial part in setting up the foundations of the BYO Office Programme within the office. Its members will be responsible for publicising the programme and ensuring that there are resources within the office to enable colleagues to BYO more easily.
The BYO team need not be an overly serious committee. It can be an informal interest group where its members have fun exploring ways to encourage their colleagues to BYO while supporting one another in being eco-friendly. It need not consist of many people – in fact, it can begin with just one really passionate individual!
2. Survey the staff
The BYO team can study their colleagues’ existing behaviours with regard to waste generation and ask them about what they think would help them most to BYO. This can be done through surveys or simply through casual conversations over lunch.
3. Furnish the pantry
Use the information collated from interested employees in step 2 to furnish the pantry. It should not be too challenging, since most office panties will already have all the facilities necessary for employees to BYO!
Some facilities would have separate halal and non-halal washing sponges, as well as drying racks, dish-washing detergent, cleaning paper towels, and a spacious cupboard within the office to store dry containers, cups or bottles from employees or for common use.
4. Publicise the BYO Office Programme
Now that the pantry is all set and ready, the BYO team can raise awareness about the BYO Office Programme through several ways to get people to participate, such as putting up a poster in the pantry to publicise the BYO Office Programme or a soft copy can be emailed to the employees.
5. Organise BYO activities
The BYO team can invite Zero Waste SG to give a BYO introductory talk in the office. Zero Waste SG would be able to provide a paid talk about the problem of plastic disposables, and what individuals and companies can do to BYO.
The BYO team can organise a video or film screening to highlight the problem of plastic waste. Check out the videos and films recommended at BYO Singapore.
The BYO team can organise a weekly or monthly BYO Office Day, where every office worker is not allowed to use any form of disposables including cutlery, containers, cups, bottles and plastic bags. Anyone caught using disposables will have to accept a “punishment”. But the punishment need not be harsh – it can be fun like paying for a department’s lunch!
During lunch time on the BYO Office Day, colleagues can buy back food and drinks in their reusable containers and bottles to the office and have lunch together. Staff can also visit the BYO Singapore participating retailers to get their takeaway food or drinks, and enjoy the incentives.
The BYO team can also set goals on reducing the amount of plastic disposables produced each day or week in the office. A bin can be set aside at the pantry for disposing plastic disposables only. The weight of the plastic disposables is measured and tracked over time, and shared to all workers either through email, social media or posters. They should also be informed of the next goal that they should work towards. Making waste minimisation more tangible using statistics and collective goals can further motivate employees to minimise waste.
For companies interested in talks and advice on setting on a BYO Office Programme, do contact Zero Waste SG!