How smaller businesses and start-ups can reduce their environmental footprint


Last year, the onset of the global pandemic turned the world of work on its head. Thousands of Aussies were forced to transition out of the traditional workplace and started working remotely from home.

The initial shock was felt most by smaller businesses that lacked the technological capabilities to facilitate remote working conditions and essential businesses where distant working isn’t an option. No matter the size, age or location, most businesses were forced to adapt. We traded in-person meetings for Zoom calls, and morning commutes for longer lie-ins.

For all the good that happened to the environment with less air travel and traffic congestion, there was a 20 per cent growth in household recycling tonnages as more of us worked from home, seeing a huge spike in disposable items, such as face masks, plastic gloves, and single-use coffee cups.

As a result, environmental concerns among employees is growing. Research has shown that three out of four Australian businesses (76 per cent) believe that good waste management improves the public perception of a company.

Businesses of all sizes need to realise that incorporating measurable and achievable sustainability initiatives is essential to attracting and retaining new staff, while also boosting their external brand persona. Just like the initial shock of accommodating work from home, implementing sustainable initiatives will be a “make or break” for many small businesses and start-ups.

Understandably, the biggest barriers preventing smaller businesses from going green frequently comes down to cost, time and resources. With that in mind, we wanted to share a few quick and easy ways you can reduce your environmental impact in your office (or home office).

  1. Up your waste management
    Establish the main recycling streams in your office by doing an audit of your waste. You’ll need to provide different boxes or receptacles for the different waste streams including ones for kerbside recyclables and general waste. For items that aren’t accepted in kerbside recycling, you can sign up for one of the free recycling programs. This will enable your colleagues to bring their recyclables to work where they can drop them all off in one place.
  2. Get more greenery
    Indoor plants can reduce stress and anxiety, improve air quality and boost creativity. Incorporating more plants won’t have a measurable effect on meeting sustainability goals, but by bringing more nature into your workspace you can start taking small steps to make your team feel more eco-conscious and enhance efficiency and employee satisfaction as a by-product.
  3. Go paperless
    Our need for paper and printing in the workplace is continuing to shrink as we become increasingly digitalised. Choosing to go paperless, or even discouraging employees from printing, is not only good for the environment but also can save time and money on printing materials.
  4. Reduce your energy
    Where we can’t rely on natural light, artificial light is the only solution. This doesn’t mean you still can’t find ways to reduce your impact. For instance, you can opt for energy-saving lightbulbs or check whether you’re able to transfer to a renewable energy provider.
  5. Go a step further and eliminate waste with paid solutions
    If you want to recycle even more, check out the paid solutions to almost every waste you can imagine, With billions of face masks and plastic gloves going to waste last year, you can make a real difference in 2021, that start with just a few small changes in your workplace!

Jean Bailliard, General Manager, TerraCycle ANZ