8 Ways to Fight the War on Plastic with your Business or Brand


Unless you've had your head buried firmly in the sand for the past few years, you'll no doubt have heard of the 'War on Plastic' – an environmental movement that recognises that the masses of plastic waste we produce are doing damage to the planet on which we live.

In case you're playing catch up on this, here are a few facts to get you started:

  • Every year, 11 million tonnes of plastic are dumped into the ocean. [source]
  • 50% of the 300 million tonnes of plastic produced each year are for single use purposes. [source]
  • Despite the growing demand, just 5% of plastics are recycled effectively, while 40% end up in landfill and a third in fragile ecosystems such as the world's oceans. [source]
  • There will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050 (that's just 32 years away). [source]

We're clearly facing a global problem, and we should all be doing what we can as individuals to help the situation. But what about businesses? What can we do as workers and business owners to help fight the war on plastic?Plastic Waste

Reducing your business' use of single use plastics will not only mean you're doing your bit for the environment – it'll help to align your brand with ideals that many hold dear. That's never a bad thing. Here are 8 ideas to help you and your business make a difference that will not only help the environment – it'll show your customers you care, and make them far more likely to do business with you again in the future...

1. Make a Pledge

It all begins with a promise to take action, so make it official. It might not seem like much, but it'll get the ball rolling, and show your customers what your intentions are. If you don't already have one, create an environmental policy and have it on display on your website or in your shop. It should contain information on the things you do / plan to do – and show people that you take the protection of the environment seriously.

2. Recycle Waste

Setting up an office or workplace recycling scheme is a great way to help reduce plastic waste, as well as many other types of waste. Plastic, card, paper, electricals, glass, and many more types of waste can be recycled from the workplace. If you work in an office environment, get separate recycle bins for different types of waste materials so everyone feels involved.

You can contact your local authority to find out what you can do to start recycling waste materials from your workplace. And make sure you include your recycling efforts in your environmental policy, too!

3. Reduce the Use of Needless Plastic

As well as recycling, reducing the amount of waste that you produce is another way to help combat the rising tide of single use plastics - and another thing you should definitely mention in any environmental policy you create. Many businesses - from small companies to huge corporations - are joining the wave of organisations promising to reduce their plastic waste. Why not you?

Look into ways that you can cut out plastic waste from activities your business is involved in. Cutting out use of plastic bags and bottles are discussed as separate points later on here, but there are many other ways you could potentially cut out the use of plastic in your business. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Encourage the use of re-usable lunch options for your team.
  • Provide incentives and support for workers to participate in reducing waste.
  • Source products that don't use excessive packaging.
  • Re-use items such as plastic binders and clip boards.
  • Recycle ink cartridges, and get them re-filled by a local provider.
  • Provide metal cutlery in the kitchen, and avoid the use of plastic knives, forks and spoons.

4. Organise a Beach Clean or Environmental Event

Putting yourselves in front of people and showing them that you are making a difference is priceless PR. Organising a beach clean or similar environmentally geared event can be a great way to do that. It creates an opportunity for networking too - and when potential clients see how much your brand cares, they'll remember you.

Beach Clean

Organising a beach clean can help add to your eco credentials. [image source]

Make sure you advertise the fact that you're doing something so wonderful, though - or nobody will show up! Create an event on Facebook and invite clients to attend. Send out an e-shot to let people know. The more the merrier, after all!

If your organisation doesn't really have the time or capacity to organise an event like this yourselves, another option is to sponsor a similar event that has been organised by someone else. For example, you could provide litter pickers and gloves for another local beach clean. Or even hot drinks served in branded reusable coffee cups (more on that next...)!

5. No more Single Use Bottles or Cups

According to Recycle Now, a whopping 35,800,000 plastic bottles are used on average EVERY DAY. Only about 55% of these are recycled – the rest are thrown away to end up in landfill or in our seas. A new scheme by Water UK aims to reduce these numbers by tens of millions each year, though. According to their plan, shops, cafes and businesses will offer free water refill points in every major city across the UK.

Water Refill Station in Bristol

A water refill station in use in Bristol. [image source]

A great way to show your support for such a scheme is to offer clients refillable drinks bottles as giveaways or sales incentives. There are many many types out there on the market, and they can be branded up with your logo or company details too. This means that not only are you helping to reduce the number of throw away plastic bottles in the system - you're also putting your brand in front of countless potential customers, time and time again.

It doesn't end at bottles, either. Research conducted by Cardiff University also states that nearly seven million single use coffee cups are binned each day in the UK – and less than 1% of these are recycled. This is mainly down to the fact that the plastic film lining the cups makes them difficult to recycle. Many coffee shops now welcome the use of refillable cups and even offer discounts for doing so! It's possible to buy eco-friendly versions featuring your company colours and branding!

6. Invest in Reusable Bags

Remember back in 2015 when major supermarkets started charging for single use carrier bags?

Whether you think this was ridiculously cheeky, or a great step towards reducing plastic waste, it seems to be having a positive effect. Since the 5p charge came in, the number of bags used has dropped by more than 80%!

In 2016, California became the first US state to ban plastic bags completely, joining a number of nations including Kenya, China, Bangladesh, Rwanda, Macedonia, and France - where plastic plates, cups and utensils will also be banned from 2020.

Shopping Bags

Reusable bags in action... [image source]

So, reusable bags are clearly one of many ways forwards. You can invest in stronger, sturdier plastic bags that can be used time and time again - or go a step further and stop using plastic altogether. Strong paper bags with rope handles are popular for businesses, and for a slightly higher charge some businesses offer cotton or jute bags that will last for years to come.

Once again, all these bags come in many different shapes and sizes, and can feature your brand or campaign details too.

7. Kick the Straw Habit

Last year, JD Wethersppons announced it was stopping its use of plastic straws in drinks across all of its pubs and bars - and in January, they did just that. Good ol' Spoons now offers paper straws - they reckon it'll stop 70 million plastic straws ending up in landfill each year.


In fact, straws seem to be a focus for lots of businesses looking to increase their green credentials. The supermarket chain Asda has pledged to swap out the 2.4 million plastic straws used in its cafes out for paper versions, too. The Final Straw is a Cornwall based website encouraging other businesses to cut out plastic straws from their practices, and encourages consumers wanting or needing a straw to ask for paper ones instead.

If you're a business that uses plastic straws, maybe it's time you opted for a more eco friendly version? These paper straws are available in a number of colours and can also be branded too.

8. Recycled Plastic Products

In the gents toilets of my closest M&S store, there's a sign up on the wall. No, it's relevant, I promise!

The main message on the sign is not what's important here - but what's written underneath it in smaller writing. It says that the sign had been made from waste materials produced when the store was built. It doesn't seem like much, but what M&S are doing here is stating that they are a company that care for the environment, and they'd rather reuse materials that were intended for waste than let them go towards landfill or our precious oceans. They're aligning the brand with eco-friendly ideologies. Customers see signs like this, and feel a certain warmth towards the brand, which makes them more likely to return.

Not to the toilets. To the shop.

With that in mind, did you know that you can buy promotional coasters or mouse mats made from recycled car tyres? Or branded pens made from recycled CD cases? How about a frisbee made from recycled plastics? Eco friendly and recycled promotional products are a fantastic way to align your brand with green ideals, as well as easily get hundreds of repeat impressions each time the items get used.

Another option is to move away from plastic in your business promotions altogether. There are hundreds of choices when it comes to environmentally friendly products, and nothing says 'eco credentials' like good old fashioned wood. Wooden desk organisers, USB sticks, even wooden pens - all are available for branding too.

How will you fight the war on plastic?

As you can see, there are plenty of ways that you and your business can help make a difference in the war on plastic. Outwardly aligning yourselves with environmental friendly practices is not only good news for the world we live in, it's a great PR move as well.

Want to know more about how your business can boost it's eco credentials using marketing? Sign up to our 'Eco Friendly' newsletter and never miss a trick - it's full of up to date hints, tips and eco products on offer from Fluid Branding. For a bit of further reading, you can also check out this article on ocean plastics by Wendy Lipscomb.