The news this week that there has been no slowdown in global warming highlights just how fragile our relationship with the environment is. It makes us question our individual role in contributing to big issues like global warming and think about the ways they can counteract the negative impact we, as individuals and businesses, have on the environment.
When it comes to big questions like this, we all tend to think that solutions to massive global issues are too difficult, expensive or "won't make a difference anyway" and sometimes we just do nothing. But even simple steps - such as tackling what you throw away - can have a significant impact on addressing big issues like climate change.
Recycling is one of the easiest ways that every single person and business can reduce their impact on the environment. It's easy and means people can be planet savers every day. In fact, it plays a huge part in tackling issues like climate change, and even the simplest of measures can create a positive long-term impact.
Saving the planet isn't the only benefit recycling can bring. Recycling can save businesses money and we find, on average, that our customers are saving 30% on their waste collection by working with us to boost recycling.
As more regulation is enforced by cash-strapped councils, businesses are realising that they need to take more responsibility to ensure they comply, or risk being fined. For example, last year Starbucks was fined £160,000 for a single waste offence because it didn't comply with Westminster Council's recycling and business waste rules.
When we recycle, used materials are converted into new products, reducing the need to consume natural resources through mining and forestry. This not only uses less raw materials but also less energy. For example, producing steel from recycled material saves 75% of the energy needed to produce virgin steel. Recycling aluminium saves 95% of CO2 compared with making aluminium from Bauxite.
Most importantly, recycling eliminates the need for landfills. Landfill sites produce harmful methane which is 21 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas. They also produce nearly a quarter of the UK's methane emissions and nearly 3% of the UK's total greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 3% of the UK's total greenhouse gas emissions.
In contrast, recycling in the UK saves more than 18 million tonnes of CO2 per year. That's the equivalent of taking nearly 4 million vehicles off the road.
We are also moving towards business paradigms that value ethics alongside profits, with increasing numbers of employees wanting to work for a business, service or product with a mission. This means companies must focus on communicating their values and purpose in a wider context than the bottom line. Additionally, it's not just employees that businesses need to think about, suppliers and customers also want to work with ethical businesses that have strong environmental policies. Recycling is a gateway to good green practices throughout a business.
As technology continues to develop, particularly in the area of artificial intelligence, self-driving vehicles and our capacity to better understand the impact of CO2 emissions on global temperatures increases, we can unlock even more ways to save the planet.
As the global population grows and affluence increases, people will continue to consume more and more. Businesses must look to technology and apply green ethics so that the planet can respond to this demand. Recycling allows individuals to play their part in contributing to sustainable practices as part of their everyday lives. Committing to recycling is easy and is just one way that employees and employers can make a difference. It's a move that makes people sense, business sense and environmental sense.