With a forced break from the office, most of us are taking the time to reflect on bad business practices — especially those with environmental consequences.
We’re already shedding light on unnecessary business travel and pollution-promoting commutes.
But what about office food waste?
If your staff fridge is always stocked up with snacks and drinks for your team Google-style, it’s time to figure out how to reduce food packaging waste. A fifth of UK waste comes from food packaging with more than 30 per cent of landfill waste being packaging-related. This is sufficient reason to start taking action against the number of containers and bottles we throw out each week.
Although most of us already have a good recycling system for our team to use, the problem is less about recycling and more about the reduction of packaging as a whole.
Read on to find eight different ways you can reduce food packaging, without reducing any of the fun that comes from a mid-shift snack.
- Monitor food consumption
- Hire event caterers
- Choose ethical takeout
- Support local greengrocers
- Buy in bulk
- Make cooking fun
- Consider remote working
- Make your own takeaways
Monitor Food Consumption
The truth is, you might not even realise the amount of food that your firm collectively consumes.
It’s much easier to gauge how much food you use in a week at home. You’ll need to put more of a conscious effort into figuring out how much food your company truly uses.
To do this, you might want to do a basic stock count at the beginning of the month and compare this with a stock count midway through the month. This will give you an estimate of the rate of consumption and whether your order frequency is too high.
If you check the use-by date on each item week-by-week, it will instantly become clear if you’re wasting some food items and their packaging in the process.
This step doesn’t require a change in any aspect of sourcing food — whether it’s from a wholesaler or a recurring supplier — it just forces you to be realistic about the volume of food you need to purchase. Plus, it might allow you to remove items from your order that aren’t favourites amongst your team.
Hire Event Caterers
Want to put on a special lunch spread for your team? Try to steer clear of pre-packaged buffets. Although it can be tempting to buy a commercial lunch in this fashion, the amount of plastic containers and cling film involved isn’t worth it.
Instead, hiring event caterers who can make trending graze boards, tasty mocktails and request-driven food can be just as affordable and much more bespoke. In doing this, you’re making lunch feel a little more exclusive and interactive than it otherwise would. Plus, the ingredients used in this scenario are likely to be fresh and local.
After doing some research, you’ll find that most caterers offer corporate packages as standard so you aren’t approaching anyone with a foreign idea.
Choose Ethical Takeout
If your office is in a crowded marketplace like London, there will be plenty of takeaway options vying for your attention.
Apart from menu quality, you’ll want to learn to judge takeaway providers on their environmental status. Do they serve dishes in flimsy plastic and styrofoam? Or do they sport biodegradable food packaging? Do they deliver by bicycle? Or a less environmental mode of transport?
These are all pointers to think about to make sure when you’re buying a Friday feast, you’re doing it from a reputable retailer that will help reduce your waste journey.
Support Local Greengrocers
If you’re used to shopping at one of the big six for your staff fridge staples, you might reconsider supporting a local greengrocer that offers package-less produce, as well as refill schemes.
The ideal when reducing food packaging waste is to pick products with zero packaging or natural packaging.
If you can, only buy loose fruits and vegetables and use refillable jars and tubs to stock up on seed mixes and dried fruits for the canteen.
Buy in Bulk
If you can’t buy everything from your local greengrocers without packaging — such as cartons of milk and spreads — try to buy these items in bulk.
Buying larger tubs and bottles results in less packaging overall and often saves on cost.
Where possible steer away from individually packaged items like juice cartons and carbonated drink cans. Instead, encourage your team to pour drinks from a large container into a glass to save on waste. The same goes for individually packaged snacks like flapjacks or cakes. A local bakery or supermarket will have whole options that can be sliced into portions later.
Make Cooking Fun
Most of us revert to buying takeout food or delivery — after all, we don’t all have time to cook a three-course meal from scratch during our workday.
However, there are some simple lunch ideas that are feasible to cook — or rather build — at your desk. These include poke bowls, rice wraps and deli boards. For this, you can buy a bunch of fresh ingredients and have more control over the amount of food packaging involved in your meal.
Cooking can also act as a great team-building activity that’s inclusive and doesn’t require you to source an outside venue.
Consider Remote Working
A simple way to reduce your firm’s waste is to remove the idea of office-centric work. In remote work, employees are able to work from their home environment and of course, will source their food as part of this.
While you can’t control the volume of packaging that your employees personally produce, this is a great way to remove reliance on a fully stocked fridge, as well as substantially reduce your operating costs.
With the rise in remote working during coronavirus, many people are expecting to see remote working as a staple of the future of work. From an environmental perspective, this also removes the need to commute to work, reducing everybody’s carbon footprint.
Make Your Own Takeaways
Can’t get over that feeling of having already prepared options in the fridge?
Your go-to might be to food prep and make your own takeaways to sit in the staffroom throughout the week. Buy our eco-friendly cold food containers in bulk where you can pre-portion granola and yoghurt pots, salads and cold pasta for any hungry coworker to enjoy.
We sell deli bowls complete with lids made from 100% compostable and biodegradable material, as well as a whole variety of bagasse containers suitable for finger foods like tacos, sushi and veggie chips.
Want to try your hand at DIY takeaways? Take the first step to streamlining your food packaging waste by picking up eco-friendly food packaging.