Workplace Waste

It’s 5pm Thursday afternoon in my office. Like every 5pm during the working week, the office cleaners are removing the refuse collected daily in our office. 5 large black refuse sacks are carried from the kitchen past me to reception and out to the service lift. 5 large refuse bags for an office where employees’ work is pretty much all conducted online. So, what explains the waste?

Let’s rewind to the beginning of the day. Upon my arrival, I drop my lunchbox in the fridge. Packed inside, 7 separate bags from the same meal-plan company. Being seated close to our reception allows me to observe the constant comings and goings throughout the day. 8am to 10am, it’s breakfast time and the food delivery drivers stream through, 6 in this window. It’s midday and thus begins the stream of deliveries for lunch, I count 10 today.

These observations make it a lot easier to explain how an office of 50 produces enough waste to fill 5 refuse bags on a daily basis. The proliferation of delivery apps and meal plan companies make our life easier and improve our diet but one wonders at what cost to the environment. Simple changes go a long way to tackling the city’s waste problem. We can encourage meal plan companies to collate their deliveries to one office together, rather than in individual bags. Instead of using delivery apps daily, can we spare 10 minutes of our day and go and collect our lunch ourselves? There are an increasing number of lunch spots offering discounts for bringing your own containers. These should be supported. Employers can also do their bit to help employees cut waste. I recently received an email from our office manager complaining that there are too many lunch containers left in the office. In fact, this is an encouraging trend. Why can’t employers provide facilities to store reusable containers? Why not provide them to begin with if it’s economically possible?

It is possible to reduce our wastage on a daily basis without compromising the convenience with which we have grown accustomed to. Simple planning and a change in office culture can go a long way to cutting our day to day waste production.


Island Life Hong Kong