While Environmental Sustainability affects us as consumers on a daily basis, have you considered how committed your organization is in its practice of green operations and activities? Does your organization portray itself as an environmentally conscious entity and if so, how can it improve on this?
Make Sustainability a Focus (and stick to it)
All organizations can, to varying degrees, easily practise sustainability activities from processes right through to the deliverables of offerings (whether tangible or intangible). However, Environmental Sustainability can only truly have an impact if it becomes a core focus amongst employees and customers alike. Without educating your audience (both internal and external) of your commitment towards sustainability and preservation, your organization may be preconceived as just another company that jumped on the ‘Green’ bandwagon.
At Ricoh, the importance of Sustainability was identified 46 years ago. Since 1976, it has become part of our DNA when we first established an Environmental Promotion Section. Sustainability has continued to influence all parts of the business from achieving the ISO 14001 certification for all our manufacturing facilities worldwide; to creating technological innovations such as Green features on our devices, enabling our customers to reduce their overall CO2 footprint.
Practise the 5Rs
According to a 2018 report titled ‘What a Waste 2.0’, “The World Bank estimates overall waste generation will increase to 3.40 billion metric tons by 2050. An estimated 13.5% of today’s waste is recycled and 5.5% is composted.” An elephant weighs 1 metric ton. That means by 2050, the world would have generated waste which is the equivalent to the weight of 3.4 billion elephants! Mind-boggling isn’t it?
Most people are familiar with the three R’s of recycling; reduce, reuse and recycle – but did you know there are actually 5 Rs? As corporate citizens, we are becoming more aware of the waste that is being generated around us as we are continually looking for additional ways to minimize our environmental impact. As such, Refuse and Repurpose are the newest Rs, in this order: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose and Recycle.
“Refuse” means to be thoughtful when buying and use the power of your dollar to tell companies what you want and don’t want. By “Repurpose” we mean to take something you are no longer using and alter it for another more practical use. Both of these Rs can also be applied from an organizational perspective.
At Ricoh, our products are designed with the environment in mind. We have reduced the types of plastics and metals used in the manufacture of our equipment, making them more easily converted to base materials which are reused to make new parts once again. Some newer multi-function print devices (MFPs) are more resource efficient in their design than ever before, using alternative raw materials such as steel scrap for MFP’s mainframes and plant-based bioplastics in some outer parts of our office and production printing devices.
Recyle! Recycle! Recycle!
When we consider the 5 Rs of recycling it is important to note the order in which they appear: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose and Recycle. It’s only when you’ve tried the first four Rs, that it’s time to practise the final R, ‘Recycle’.
To be truly committed in practising Environmental Sustainability, you need to recycle everything and anything. As an organization, think about every process and activity that has an environmental impact. Anything made from metal, wood, most plastics, paper and cardboard, and electronic e-waste are all likely to have a recycling option.
At Ricoh, we assessed and took our recycling efforts one step further. Our Canadian distribution centre has an impressive 17-year history of being ISO 14001 certified combined with a management team fully educated on the 5 Rs of recycling.
In 2018 the recycling rate for our distribution centre was measured at 89%, but for 2019 the team committed to a higher recycling goal of 96% – which was achieved in less than a year. How did we achieve this?
Every process that involved materials with recycling or reuse potential was scrutinized and action was taken through several initiatives including:
– The collection of unwanted wooden skids for reuse (average 5.1 metric tonnes/month)
– Recycling plastic skids and box locks through a local company
– Forming a partnership with Picture Depot who utilizes our clean Styrofoam to make picture frames that are sold globally (estimated 30, 000 lbs/year)
Wherever your organization is in its journey towards Environmental Sustainable, keep going! – And remember these wise words from The Dalai Lama: “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”
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