November 8, 2017

Chucking out personal bins

By Melanie Louie

We’ve recently moved into our new office in Hong Kong. We wanted to create a healthy, efficient and future-proof space to reduce waste consumption and reduce carbon emissions.

In a previous post, I’d written about how Cundall is a One Planet Company. As part of the Zero Waste principle, we look to reduce waste, re-use and recycle.

We have donated or reused almost all the furniture and lighting from our previous office which diverted 1770kg of waste from landfill. But to support the reduction in our operational waste production, we have taken the, some would say, drastic measure to remove all personal bins in our open plan office area.

Studies have shown that having personal waste bins reduce recycling rates. This is attributable to the convenience of the nearby bin vs. the effort of going to the recycling bin area. By eliminating the personal bins, we must walk the 40 steps to the appropriate recycling bin when we want to throw out an empty can or scrap of paper.

It may sound like a minor inconvenience, but the rewards we will reap are:

  • Improved recycling rates, reduced rubbish to landfill and carbon emissions associated with waste disposal
  • Reduced plastic from reduced bin liners
  • Less clutter and tripping hazards, improving Health & Safety
  • A nice stretch for our muscles and break for our eyes from the computer, plus extra steps on our pedometers for the global challenge

According to the World Health Organisation, inactivity is now one of the biggest threats to public health. Directly attributable to 9.4% of all deaths worldwide, or 3.5 million people every year. An office worker typically spends 75% of his or her day sitting, exercise does not undo the damage of prolonged sitting. But taking a movement break every 30 minutes does. Ideally this should be 5 minutes, so why not walk over to your colleague and have that quick catch up as well?

This initiative is not only good for the planet, but for us as well.

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Melanie Louie, Sustainability, Workplace

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