By Shivam Arora
Plastic waste is a growing problem in Canada and around the world, and businesses of all sizes have a role to play in reducing it. According to a report from the Canadian government, only 9% of plastic waste in Canada is recycled, with the majority ending up in landfills or the natural environment. Canada generates one of the highest volumes of waste per person in the world, with 60% coming from businesses and organizations.
On June 22, 2022, the federal government published the Single-Use Plastics Prohibition Regulations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act 1999 (CEPA), which intends to eliminate single-use plastic—including checkout bags, cutlery, and straws--by the end of 2025.
The government is doing its part, but there's a lot that businesses can do to reduce their plastic waste and help protect the environment.
1. Conduct a waste audit: A waste audit is a process that businesses can use to identify and quantify the types and amounts of waste they generate. Conducting a waste audit can help businesses understand their waste streams and identify areas where they can reduce plastic waste. By conducting a waste audit and taking steps to reduce its plastic waste, businesses can not only protect the environment but also save money by reducing their waste disposal costs. It’s a win–win situation for businesses and the environment!
2. Implement a recycling program: To reduce their plastic waste, businesses can set up a recycling program for their employees, customers, or both. This can include providing recycling bins in the office or offering incentives (such as points, perks, or discounts) to customers who bring in their own reusable bags or containers. In addition, businesses can work with local recycling facilities to ensure that their plastic waste is properly disposed of and recycled.
3. Provide customers with reusable bags: Reusable bags can be a great alternative to single-use plastic bags, as they can be used multiple times and reduce waste. They can be made from a variety of materials, such as canvas, nylon, or recycled plastic. For maximum eco-friendliness, consider implementing a “borrow a bag” program that allows customers to donate and take reusable bags for free. Providing customers with reusable bags can be a great way for businesses to promote their commitment to sustainability
4. Ask your customers what they need: Before giving your customers disposable or single-use items, such as plastic cutlery and packaged condiments, ask them if they'd like to be provided with these products. You might be surprised by how many customers say "no, thank you"! In fact, some businesses are going so far as to only provide such disposable items upon request, omitting paper napkins, straws, plastic cutlery, and single-use condiments unless a customer specifically asks for them.
5. Introduce a bring-your-own-container (BYOC) program: Bringing your own container, also known as BYOC, is a waste reduction strategy that encourages people to bring their own reusable containers when purchasing goods, such as food or drinks, rather than using disposable containers. BYOC is an easy and effective way for individuals and businesses to reduce waste and promote sustainability. It can also help customers save money by purchasing products in bulk, and it helps create a sense of community and responsibility for the impact of the waste we produce.
6. Go paperless: Going paperless is a waste-reduction strategy that involves reducing the use of paper products in a business. This can be achieved by using digital alternatives---such as electronic documents, receipts, and communication—instead of paper-based ones. This can help reduce the amount of waste generated and save businesses money on paper and printing costs.
7. Educate employees and customers: Finally, Canadian businesses can reduce their plastic waste by educating their employees and customers on the importance of reducing plastic waste and the small changes they can make to this end. This can include providing information on recycling and composting, and promoting sustainable practices to both employees and customers. By raising awareness and encouraging others to take action, businesses can play a key role in reducing plastic waste in Canada.
These are only a few of the ways in which businesses can reduce their plastic waste.
Reducing waste is a complex task, but it’s not impossible. Canadian businesses can play a big role in waste reduction by making small changes to their operations and practices. By conducting a waste audit, implementing recycling programs, using eco-friendly products, asking your customers what they need, introducing a BYOC program, going paperless, and educating employees and customers, Canadian businesses can reduce their plastic waste and help protect the environment.
It's also important for businesses to stay up-to-date with the new policies and regulations regarding plastic waste management in Canada, as the government is also taking steps to tackle this issue. By working together, businesses and the government can help reduce plastic waste in Canada and make a positive impact on the environment.
For more information about how your business can reduce its plastic waste, follow our blog or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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This is where you can find more in-depth information on how to reduce waste in our local communities and live more sustainably.
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