There’s an old business adage, “What gets measured gets done”. Think productivity goals, KPIs, sales targets and more. Without the measurement, and a benchmark to improve against, it’s pretty easy to sit on your laurels and assume all is going well, and to plan. When it comes to things that really matter, like the environment for example, planning to just “do better” simply isn’t good enough.
David Attenborough is a British institution. He’s respected, even revered, and so his conservation rallying cry at the end of the recent Blue Planet series did not go unheard. Nor has it gone unheeded. While most of us had niggling doubts about the impact our consumerist society was having, few of us realised just how bad and how desperate the situation had become for our marine-life. So, it was a wake-up call.
The Packaging Issue
Consumers demanded action be taken. And brands and businesses naturally responded. Not quite overnight, but certainly swiftly, supermarkets pledged to reduce plastic packaging, and in one instance (Iceland) totally eliminate it within five years. Zero plastic packaging – totally measurable.
The Latte Levy
It’s shocking to learn that only about 0.25% of the 2.5bn disposable cups used each year in the UK are recycled. Because most are lined with a thin layer of plastic to waterproof them which is hard to separate, they cannot enter recycling systems meaning that they are either burnt or buried in landfill.
When politicians came up with what has been branded “the latte levy” – a 25p premium for the use of such cups – coffee shop brands feared falling sales and were galvanised into action. Many responded with a 25p discount, and Pret a Manager 50p, to customers using a refillable cup. Imagine if this has a similar impact to the introduction of 5p carrier bags – a very measurable 85% reduction in usage.
The Final Straw
Wetherspoons and Wagamama are in good company as they, along with Buckingham Palace, have already ended their use of plastic straws. Scotland has committed to ban, across the entire nation, plastic straws by end 2019 having already outlawed the sale and manufacture of plastic cotton buds
Saving the world, one page at a time
Our preferred unit of measurement is the ISO standard 14001. It recognises our commitment to operating responsibly and complying with all the relevant environmental regulations, legislation and codes of practice. More than that, it forces us to continually make improvements.
So, this year already, we’re:
- adding Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification to prove that all “forest-products” come from well-managed forests and/or recycled materials.
- committed to improving on the 93% of waste we recycled in 2017
- ensuring compliance of all our vehicles with the Euro 6 emissions standard
- majorly reducing our packaging materials
- utilising couriers and mail consolidators to reduce transport and distribution resources
- significantly reducing the plastic waste we generate
- banning single-use straws and bottles in the business
- training all employees on environmental issues
- planning routes of delivery to reduce emissions
- encouraging staff to walk, cycle or car share
Our customers care about the environment, which is a good reason why we should. But looking after the planet is simply the right and responsible thing to do – and that’s an even better one.