How to create a plastic free Workplace

By Faye Gilling

18 July 2022
5 min read

If you look around you, there’s probably at least five items of plastic on your desk. From cups to carrier bags, bottles to binders; plastic is used in many single-use office items that we use each and every day. Now, if you took away those items, would you be able to continue working? With most items, the answer is probably ‘yes’.

As we’re becoming increasingly conscious about our reliance on single use plastics and their impact on the planet, now is the perfect time to act and start removing unnecessary plastic from your work day. This Plastic Free July, we’re sharing our tips and advice on reducing and removing single-use plastic from your workplace, as well as other materials, in favour of more sustainable and reusable alternatives.

Bring your own cup

plastic free Cups in a row

We all love a ‘proper coffee’ and, while grabbing a quick Java on the daily commute might be your morning ritual, the takeaway containers they’re provided in are intended for single-use. Either plastic or paper based, these items can be easily avoided and while they’re mainly recyclable it can’t be guaranteed that they will make their way to the correct recycling disposal – contributing to the 8 million tons of plastic waste that escapes into the oceans each year.(1)

Why not save money and the planet, simultaneously, by bringing a plastic free flask of Joe into work instead? Or, if you just can’t resist that bean to cup taste, why not get a ‘keep cup’ to re-use each time you’re heading into work?

Say no to plastic carrier bags

Whether nipping to the shop on your lunch break or doing the ‘big shop’ on your way home, make smarter and more sustainable choices when it comes to packing it all up. Having a lightweight fabric bag tucked away in your bag or pocket could literally be a life saver the next time you’re at the checkout.

Millions of animals are killed by plastics every year, from birds to fish to other marine organisms. Nearly 700 species, including endangered ones, are known to have been affected by plastics (2) #ChooseToRefuse plastic in your shopping trip and help marine life survive.

Cotton tote bags and string bags are becoming increasingly popular, not just because of their plastic free eco-friendly credentials but because they’re stylish, too. These are available from many outlets; your favourite coffee shop might even have branded their own!

While you’re at it, say no to packaging

As consumers, many of us are already making more eco-friendly choices when it comes to how our products are packaged, so we should introduce this to business practices too.

Plastic packaging is absolutely a single-use plastic, it is instantly damaged in order for us to access our items and has a lifespan of mere minutes to hours, yet may persist in the environment for hundreds of years to be. These types of single-use plastics account for 40 percent of the plastic produced every year. (3)

Break the cycle by investigating your businesses procurement process and supply chain. Are there any plastic free or more sustainable alternatives? If not maybe it’s time to switch to a provider that matches your environmental values.

Make a date with your local Milkman

Did you know that only 4% of the British population gets their milk delivered? (4) By getting milk on a subscription, delivered to your door (or reception), you’re not only reducing your trips to the corner shop, but you’re swapping plastic for glass. Glass is plastic free and can be reused and recycled; a quick win for your environmental conscience.

And, you’re supporting local, too! By signing up with your local milk delivery service you’re helping local businesses thrive, throughout the supply chain. From the milk to the cow; your business is investing in local produce which is another business triumph.    

Recycle where you can

EWIC Site posters for recycling July 2022

As a responsible and conscious business, you’ll be up to speed on the benefits of recycling and how your office or business centre deals with recyclables already. By recycling what you can and sorting your paper, plastic and general waste, you’re already contributing to a greener future, but did you know you could increase the chances of items being recycled even more?

In 2018, UK councils sent 500,000 tonnes of recycling to landfill because of contamination (5). Avoid contaminating your mixed recycling with food or other substances; everything that you sort for recycling should be clean and dry.

Elsie Whiteley Innovation Centre is a Social Enterprise committed to reducing its impact on the planet. In 2020 – 2021 we helped save 3,500 single-use disposable plastic cups from landfi­ll, through our recycling practices. As part of Halifax Opportunities Trust, we aim to increase our focus on sustainability and the environment to ensure future communities continue to thrive in a climate friendly planet. Find out more about our impact via the button below:

To find out more about Plastic Free July, head to the official website here:


  1. National Geographic:
  2. National Geographic:
  3. National Geographic:
  4. CleanStreets Westminster:
  5. HuffingtonPost:,else%20%E2%80%93%20a%20completely%20avoidable%20situation

Written By:

Faye Gilling
Faye is the Marketing & Communications Lead at Halifax Opportunities Trust.