I’m part of my Environmental team at work.
It’s one of the advantages to working for a multi-national – they’ve got the money to invest in seemingly altruistic endeavours. Really, they’re into it at the moment because clients and prospective clients are becoming increasingly conscious of the environmental impact of doing business. Many clients are insisting that the companies they do business with have ISO 14001 certification, or are working towards it. So country by country, office by office, my company is doing just that.
Not in Brisbane though. We’re not big enough. So we started our team to tackle the environmental issues we face at work.
It started nearly six months ago, when a Brisbane-based woman from another section of the company gave a presentation on how the company is getting or has received ISO certification in several offices. There was an awesome video, showing offices with sensor lights in Bangalore, water reduction in London, recycling in Madrid. I was inspired.
I was also hoping for promotion, and thinking I needed to do something that made me look brilliant and caring, since apparently doing great at my work wasn’t getting me anywhere. (You can see I’m as altruistic as my company). Having resigned myself to organising team bonding events or something equally thrilling, it suddenly occurred to me; maybe I could do something that would make me look good and make me feel good. There mightn’t be an environmental action team for Brisbane yet, but there could be. The woman presenting was a place to start.
So to cut a long story short, I contacted her, other folks contacted her, and now we have a volunteer team of four concerned citizens. Things have been moving slowly – we only meet once a month, as work is very fast-paced and keeps us all busy, but we’re getting there. Our main focus right now is setting up some recycling. (You were wondering when I’d get to the point, weren’t you?)
We already had paper recycling, but now we’ve set up a series of regular recycling bins in the Brisbane offices. They take plastic, glass, aluminium, tin, paper, cardboard, paper cups and so on. We’re having a little trouble with getting the big central bin set up, though. Currently it’s hiding in a storage room cos the basement security guard won’t let us put it with the the other bins in the caged off area downstairs. We’re contacting the building owner to find out if it’s policy, if we have to rent bin space, or if it’s just the the basement guy playing God. So far it seems to be working well – the recycling bin is full everyday, and the regular bin seems to have less rubbish in it. My job recently has been to create some posters to encourage people to recycle. We already have some to ensure people recycle correctly.
Apparently the recycling company can provide statistics of how much we send them, so that, coupled with how much stuff we order (how many bottles of milk, how many paper cups and so on) should enable us to provide results to our colleagues to reinforce the message that recycling rocks!
I was mentioning in the meeting today though that I think after we’ve gotten through the recycling bit, we should talk about reusing. Cos while recycling is good, reusing is better. I know, it’s my catch-cry right now. Don’t think I’m not into recycling though, I am. Our recycling bin always has more in it than our regular bin.
In fact, here are a few (a few!?) reasons I like recycling:
- Twenty aluminium cans can be recycled with the same energy required to produce one new can from raw materials.
- Recycling one aluminium can saves enough energy to run a television for three hours. Is TV what we want to use the energy for though?
- In 2002, Australia recycled over 31,000 tonnes of aluminium drink cans – that’s 63% of the cans used that year, or around 2 billion individual cans.
- Making plastic from recycled materials uses only 30% of the energy required to make plastic products from fossil fuels.
- Roughly 117,000 tonnes of recyclables are contaminated in Australia each year (as of 2006), and end up as landfill.
- In 2006, methane from landfill accounted for 13.5% of Australia’s total emissions, with an estimated 710,000 tonnes of methane being released into the atmosphere annually. One tonne of methane has the same effect on global warming as 24.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
- Making recycled glass uses less energy and makes less than making new glass because crushed recycled glass melts at a lower temperature than the virgin components of glass (essentially, sand).
- The energy we save when we recycle one glass bottle is enough to light a light bulb for four hours.
- Well-run recycling programs cost less to operate than waste collection, landfilling, and incineration. The more people recycle, the cheaper it gets.
- Recycling creates four jobs for every one job created in the waste management and disposal industries.
- Every ton of paper that is recycled saves 17 trees.
- Brutal wars over natural resources, including timber and minerals, have killed or displaced more than 20 million people and are raising at least $12 billion a year for rebels, warlords, and repressive governments. Recycling eases the demand for the resources.
- Recycling prevents habitat destruction, loss of biodiversity, and soil erosion associated with logging and mining.
So do the right thing. Put it in the bin. The recycling bin. 🙂
- Recycling Reality
- Australian Bureau of Statistics – Waste
- Why do we recycle?
- Waste and Recycling
- Recycling Benefits.