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Workplace procurement

You may be surprised by the amount of single-use plastic your company regularly obtains, and even more surprised by how easy it can be to fix it.

What you can do

Investigate your workplace’s procurement practices and reduce the amount of single-use plastics used.

How you can do it

Start off by finding your workplace’s procurement procedure. This may be a simple document that outlines the basics, such as which providers to use and how much can be spent before certain procedures must be followed. It could be more complex, highlighting ethical requirements of suppliers.

After learning more about the procedures in place, gather together key procurement people in a meeting. Try and ensure someone with decision making authority is on the team, or at least aware of the initiative.

With the team, explore amending the procurement procedure to include some of the following:

  • Do we really need to procure this single-use plastic item?
  • Can it be procured without single-use plastic packaging?
  • Can the same item be made from recycled content, thus closing the loop?
  • Can packaging be reduced by buying in bulk?

If your workplace has a sustainability officer, add:

  • Can we do more by checking with the sustainability officer before purchasing

When putting together the list to discuss, consider simple items that your workplace obtains on a regular basis and discuss whether you can reduce packaging. This could include:

  • switching to loose-leaf tea and coffee in a plunger (or a machine that grinds beans itself) in the kitchen.
  • Sourcing stationary not made of plastic or wrapped in plastic (eg. wooden pencils rather than plastic clicker pencils, and cardboard or refillable pens rather than plastic pens).

Taking the next steps

With the procurement team on board, you can discuss with them whether or not sourcing new suppliers is possible. Perhaps there’s a supplier you can use that’s more aware of the dangers of plastic packaging and makes a conscious effort to reduce packaging.

The Impact

  • For every one bin-full of waste generated, 70 bin-fulls was generated upstream in making it. That means it’s exceptionally important to reduce waste through good procurement practices.
  • Practical sustainability initiatives help staff to live their values and make workplaces more rewarding to work in.

More ideas

What others do

Glass of lemonade, bunch of straws and a plastic juice bottle

To find plastic free ideas, take the Plastic Free July challenge

Reusable carry bag, keep cups and bamboo cutlery
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