June 8th is World Oceans Day, a day to celebrate the role our oceans play for our planet and in our everyday lives. While we as individuals can certainly do our part, businesses can make an even bigger impact on reducing plastic pollution in the ocean. (In 2019, research found that more than 90% of the world’s single-use plastic waste was generated by just 100 companies!)
Making a few small changes can make a major impact in protecting the world’s waters. We’ll explain why plastic waste affects oceans and how businesses can take steps to join the cause in protecting the earth’s oceans.
Single-Use Plastic and Our Oceans
Just one bottle in the ocean has the potential to cause a lot of damage. But, estimates report that about 13 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean every year. Single-use plastic bottles take a long time to break down and remain in the ocean for hundreds of years. What’s more, it harms more than 800 species of marine life worldwide.
Single-use plastics and other plastic debris affects marine life in 3 main ways: they become entangled in it, they ingest it, or they become injured by colliding with it. Many marine animals die because they ingest plastic bottles and other plastic debris, which causes starvation. Their stomachs become so full of plastic that their body can’t break it down and there’s no room for the food they need to live.
20% of plastic pollution in the ocean comes from marine sources, like fishing fleets, that leave abandoned vessels, nets, and fishing lines behind. The remaining 80% of harmful ocean plastic comes from land sources and most often finds its way to the sea via rivers.
Businesses can have the biggest impact on reducing the type of plastic in the ocean that comes from land sources. Many companies are already taking action to address the issue of plastic pollution in the ocean. Aramark, a major food service company, has pledged to reduce single-use plastics by removing 100 million plastic straws annually from their operations in the United States.
Other big names who have committed to reducing plastic waste pollution include H&M, Unilever, PepsiCo, L-Oreal, Nestle, and Coca-Cola. They’ve all made commitments to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to work toward a circular economy model to eliminate plastic waste.
Ways to Reduce Ocean Plastic
Any business can help reduce the amount of plastic debris that’s in the ocean and have a positive effect on the Earth. We’ll explain how making changes to the way your business operates and encouraging employees to engage in eco-friendly initiatives can reduce your environmental impact.
Eliminate single-use plastic bottles, cups, and utensils in the workplace
The office kitchen or breakroom is a great place to start reducing the amount of plastic waste your business produces. The single-use plastic bottles, cups, and utensils a business of any size uses daily add up over time. Replace those single-use items with reusable mugs, glasses, and cutlery for your break room to reduce the amount of waste your business is responsible for and limit your spending on restocking break room supplies.
Encourage your team to bring reusable containers to work
Don’t stop at replacing the items in your break room or kitchen. Encourage employees to bring their own reusable containers to work. Tupperware and reusable drinking bottles are serious weapons for fighting the battle against ocean plastic. Start a BYOBottle initiative at your business and reward employees who participate. You can also provide company-branded reusable bottles to employees to motivate them to ditch plastic bottles and cups.
Organize a cleanup
Most plastic pollution in the ocean that comes from the land gets there by way of rivers fed by lakes, creeks, and streams. Have your HR department reach out to your local watershed association and organize a volunteer cleanup among employees. No matter how well maintained, watersheds always need help and a cleanup is a great way to raise awareness about plastic pollution in the community where your business is located.
Get a commercial coffee machine
An estimated 2.5 billion single-use coffee cups are discarded globally every year. To minimize plastic waste from coffee cups, get a commercial coffee machine for your workplace. With a commercial coffee brewer in the office, employees can avoid single-use coffee cups from their local coffee shops and instead refill mugs or tumblers continuously throughout their workday without waste.
Promote recycling in the workplace
Create an atmosphere at your office to get team members excited about recycling. You can set weekly and monthly goals centered on recycling and encourage participation by offering incentives for those who take part. Remember: recycling should be as easy as possible for everyone in your office. Place recycling receptacles in centralized, accessible locations with clear labels.
Spread the word
Engage with your team to provide information and resources about the negative effects single-use plastic has on the planet and the oceans. Spread awareness through internal and external communications like company newsletters and social media posts. Once you’ve got their attention, provide employees with suggestions for new habits they can adopt to reduce the overall impact of single-use plastic.
Advocate for sustainable solutions like bottleless water coolers
Choosing to switch to a bottleless water cooler will significantly reduce the amount of single-use plastic waste your business generates. These systems connect directly to a municipal water supply.
Installing a bottleless water cooler at your office will prevent up to 7,000 single-use plastic bottles from entering landfills and waterways.
Do a cost comparison to determine how much money a bottleless water cooler can save your business and then create a proposal to present to your operations manager.
Reduce Plastic Waste at Your Business
Plastic pollution in the ocean is killing marine life and endangering the overall health of our planet. Individuals and businesses can make responsible choices every day to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean. We can all work together to protect one of our most valuable natural resources, our oceans.
Do your part by switching to a bottleless water cooler to reduce plastic waste. Quench was selected as the “Best Environmentally Friendly Water Delivery Service” and has a variety of bottleless water coolers to meet any business’ needs.