According to WWF, more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050 is a looming reality – a harsh warning of what lies ahead unless we take immediate and dramatic action to transform our global plastic consumption and waste management practices.
Every year, approximately 8 million tonnes of plastic are not recycled and dumped in our oceans, wreaking havoc on ecosystems, killing wildlife and even entering food chains. And it will take a united global effort from people, communities, and organisations across every industry to drive change in plastic use and reverse these impacts.
As global awareness of plastic pollution increases thanks to campaigns like Plastic Free July, organisations across the built environment, including property owners, managing agents and occupiers, are under increasing pressure to make sustainable choices. This has led to most setting ambitious targets to cut plastic drastically or eliminate it entirely within the workplace.
While we are seeing organisations striving to encourage responsible behaviours internally through employee engagement initiatives or public awareness campaigns, most are turning to their facilities management providers, particularly those responsible for soft services, as the driving force behind real and lasting change.
The essential role of the soft facilities management provider
Soft facilities management services like cleaning, security, and waste management services are crucial in maintaining a clean, healthy, sustainable built environment. These essential services help transform where we live, work, and socialise, whether commercial offices, co-working spaces, built-for-renters residential developments, or retail and leisure spaces, into places people choose to be. Often referred to as the eyes and ears of a building, service providers also have the potential to positively impact the environment and influence the flow of plastic within your workplace.
Shifting a cultural change from the front line
Soft facilities management providers are an extension of the places where they operate and directly interact with customers, building occupants and tenants daily. Leveraging this position, they are uniquely positioned to help you drive change from within your building.
Your soft service provider can help organise educational initiatives and awareness campaigns about the importance of plastic reduction in the workplace. Informing end users about the environmental impact of plastic waste and providing tips for reducing plastic consumption can foster responsible behaviours throughout the building.
During Plastic Free July, Andron is collaborating with leading property and asset management company JLL PAM UK to inspire change in plastic use within JLL-managed buildings. Our building engagement events will encourage staff to refuse single-use plastic and choose sustainable alternatives, like swapping single-use plastic bottles for reusable ones. To ensure a lasting impact, we will also gift tenants 100% recyclable and reusable MadeBlue water bottles. These bottles provide 500 litres of clean water for global projects in developing countries and prevent 4+ kg of plastic waste. Small steps like these can make a massive difference in the fight against plastic pollution.
Green Cleaning Practices
Soft facilities management providers can significantly reduce the amount of plastic entering your building by incorporating green cleaning practices. Green cleaning is a cleaning approach that prioritises environmental sustainability, health, and safety. It involves using cleaning products, techniques, and methods that have a minimal impact on human health and the environment. The primary goal is reducing toxic chemicals, limiting waste generation, and conserving natural resources while maintaining a clean, healthy, hygienic indoor environment.
As part of a Green Cleaning service, your current provider should consider the entire lifecycle of the products they use on-site, considering what happens to the empty packaging.
Andron prioritises green cleaning practices and uses 100% organic, biodegradable cleaning products that are safe for people and the planet. Also, the 5-litre reusable container, made from 100% recycled materials and manufactured using renewable energy, is part of a closed-loop system. Once empty, the container is collected by our supplier, washed, refilled, and returned to the site for our cleaning teams. This simple step significantly cuts down on virgin plastic production and plastic waste.
Sustainable Waste Management
Proper waste management is a crucial component of reducing plastic consumption. If your soft facilities management provider is handling the waste in your building, they should be able to tell you if you are recycling, segregating, and avoiding waste correctly.
Regular audits and reporting on plastic consumption and waste generation can help you track progress and identify areas for improvement. This data-driven approach allows you to set measurable targets and continuously refine your plastic reduction strategies.
Focusing on staff engagement and proper waste segregation can also significantly impact the success of your overall waste strategy. At Andron, we aim to educate on the need to reduce, reuse and recycle, as well as the direct impact of waste on the environment. We support our customers in correctly segregating their waste through centralised colour-coded bins, bespoke, high-impact marketing, and on-site training to achieve the best possible recycling and recovery rates.
We even provide waste segregation training to our cleaning operatives on sites where we do not handle waste, which means if they spot plastic in the wrong bin, for example, they actively correct it. This process ensures maximum plastic reduction and recycling rates on your site.
Soft facilities management providers often procure various products used within your building as part of their services. And they all come with an environmental impact. Products like hand towels and toilet rolls can all contribute to single-use plastic waste. By prioritising suppliers that offer plastic-free or low-plastic alternatives, you can reduce the influx of single-use plastic items into your building. Making simple changes, such as swapping shrink-wrapped products for products packaged in cardboard boxes or paper, provides more opportunities for recycling and less plastic waste. For example, by switching paper products wrapped shrink-wrap to products in paper packaging, we saved 328 pieces of plastic, just over 13kg, from entering our client’s properties.
In conclusion, soft facilities management providers are instrumental in reducing plastic consumption within your building. Embracing green cleaning practices, promoting eco-friendly products, sustainable procurement and waste management, and educating building occupants significantly impact the fight against plastic pollution. Their efforts transform workplaces into cleaner and healthier spaces and set an example for others to adopt.
Are you looking for more inspiration on reducing plastic in your workplace? Andron Facilities Management is taking urgent action in the fight against single-use plastic across the built environment. We are working with our clients to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic across co-working and commercial offices, residential developments, high-street banking hubs, manufacturing and distribution plants, technology cleanrooms, public sector buildings, and retail and leisure spaces. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.