A ban on plastics – Draconian and infringing on people’s rights or a positive step?


As the owner of Intelligent Facility Solutions Ltd I have been driving my staff mad about reducing our environmental impact, they have seen me arriving dishevelled and sweaty from cycling across the Sheffield Hills and investing in a hybrid vehicle. They have heard me banging on about turning the lights off, complaining about all the packaging in the bins and wasted paper, lecturing about the environment.

I sound pretty annoying, don’t I? I think so!

It’s a personal failing I have that sometimes serves me well but other times doesn’t necessary get the best out of other people. I get a bee in my bonnet about something and it’s all or nothing, it dominates my thinking. I think this bloody mindedness has served me well in establishing a strong business, but I am also aware that how I go about things could be better.

I decided to discuss with a mentor how I wanted to change our businesses collective ethos and attitude towards all things environmental and it was clear that 2 things needed to happen.

1. I needed to live it myself without preaching and 2. Consult on changes I want to make rather than just imposing them.

So, we came up with the idea of proposing and potentially banning single use plastics in the office into contracts and having a consultation on it. No plastic milk cartons, no sweets, crisps, water bottles etc etc.

We started by watching a video on climate change and understanding how the production and consumption of unnecessary products that have been created purely for convenience has caused so much extra emissions. We then consulted all the staff on the idea of a ban on single use plastics.

It turned out to be a really positive discussion, people were open to the trial even without rewards and some great additional ideas sprung up. Although rewards were not requested, I felt it important that the change was not too much of a hardship, it makes the change easier to become habit if its fully positive. So, we have taken the following steps:

  1. Weekly delivery of fruit, as much in season and locally produced as possible
  2. Glass bottled milk delivery
  3. Collection of sweet treats weekly

We have already provided reusable bottles and staff are now encouraged to use the local sandwich shop and eat in rather than have take out packaging from the supermarkets. This is a double positive as it forces the workaholics in the office to take a bit of time out the office to enjoy their lunch rather than rush back and eat at their desks.

The consultation also explained the need for education around what could and could not be recycled, something we are producing a guide on.

Another great idea that came from the staff was that we could invest in Terracycle recycling boxes and take care of our household non-recyclable waste. I loved the idea that we are taking care of the problem inside and outside work. We are also offering manufacturer supported waste collection points for the local community.

Exciting stuff, let’s see how we get on and the challenges we face…..

What’s the staff’s initial thoughts?

“Personally, I think this is a great initiative.  I feel it’s gone past the nice to have CSR policies now on environmental initiatives, this is a necessity which all businesses, large and small, should be taking on with everyone’s future in mind.

Is it going to be easy, of course not.  Change often is, but to be getting help by the company to do our bit is great in my eyes.  It shows I work for a business that not only promotes products and services that are better for the environment, but also leads by example.  I’m proud to say I work for somewhere like that to be honest.” James

“I think it’s a good idea, my initial thought was that it would be easy to do until I realised how many daily things have single-use plastic that you don’t even think of!” Daytona

“Looking forward to the challenge of going plastic free, it’s going to be harder than it sounds but in the long run will be worth it.

Putting it in employment contracts was a new one on me, never experienced anything like that but I think it’s an innovative idea that sets us apart from others.” Rich

“It left me without excuses to change. It was a matter of committing for a few days and trying. It was not actually difficult to take care of my own reusable water bottle or consider the ecofriendliness of the packaging when choosing products. I should have done it sooner.

Now I am more aware when disposing single-use plastics and the other more greener options.

It makes me think how other companies could make a difference by changing how products are packed.” Paula

“I think this is a really good initiative by the company and I’m happy to be part of it. Gives me a satisfaction that I’m contributing to making the world better in my own little way. Avoiding using plastics will definitely take some getting used to but I intend to apply it in my personal life at home as well and not just at work.” Kehinde

“I think a ban on plastic would be a great initiative for the environment. I hear that the UK government are already taking an initiative in stopping the production/sourcing of plastic straws, drink stirrers.

We all know that plastics are made from natural resources such as crude oil, Coal & natural gas. We need to avoid using these natural resources for the production of basic things like straws.” Mustapha

“I think the ban on plastics has been targeted at me because I bring plastic bottles into work. I think it’s a positive addition to our company ethos. I think it’s a good standard to advertise to the local community. I think little changes like this can have a massive effect on society and the way we do things in the future.” Adrian

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