In a society as environmentally-aware as ours today, we often hear people discussing how we can reduce our individual waste consumption. We’re told to ditch plastic straws and water bottles, grocery shop more sustainably, and bring our own keep cups when ordering coffee. And while any small effort is a good effort, the setback with these is that they put the burden on the consumer.
The truth is, according to a 2017 study by the Carbon Disclosure Project (a UK environmental non-for-profit), a mere 100 companies have been responsible for 71% of the global greenhouse gas emissions since 1998. This includes the greenhouse gases released from landfill waste. As a consumer, our individual contribution to saving the planet is only as good as the businesses, products and services we consume.
The most noticeable change can only be made if big businesses – the ones with the most power and influence on consumers – act more sustainably. In fact, a 2018 Nielsen study shows that 81% of global consumers believe strongly that companies should help improve the environment, which will help the 73% who agreed they would change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.
The best way to reach those big businesses is through powerful people, and a recent initiative from Australian billionaire and philanthropist, Andrew Forest, recognises just that.
In a project he calls Sea The Future, Forest has proposed that household brands pay premium for virgin plastics used in their packaging. This makes recycled plastics cheaper by comparison and addresses a common concern for businesses of whether or not they can afford to go green.
Forest has also previously called for a global tax on plastics to be imposed by governments. (The closest thing Australian consumers can link this ideology to is being charged for plastic bags at grocery stores – which, again, puts the burden mostly on the consumer).
“Industry, fully supported by governments and regulators, is the only sector that can drive the urgent global shift needed to save our oceans from plastic waste,” said Forest. What’s important is that we recognise that powerful companies influence less powerful consumers, and that’s the quickest and most instrumental way to a more sustainable environment.
Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenage environmental activist who started the ‘school strike for climate’ movement, believes in a similar principle – although she targets politicians, rather than businesses.
In her speech at the UN Climate Action Summit last month, Thunberg said, “Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth.”
She encourages those who have power to take responsibility, saying, “This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school.”
While individual efforts to save the environment is much needed, the truth is, it won’t mean as much if big businesses, and those who have the most power, aren’t on board. What we’re saying is – protecting the environment isn’t just a one-person effort. It’s important that those who have influence recognise their responsibility to the environment and act accordingly.
There are many Australian businesses that are beginning to lead the way to encourage more sustainable consumption. This includes Coca-Cola Australia who plan to replace 70% of its plastic bottles with recycled plastic by the end of 2019, which will save approximately 16,000 tonnes of virgin plastic per year. For more, have a read through our blog here.
What we care about at Nationwide Waste Solutions, as a leading waste management provider, is encouraging our big clients to recognise their responsibility to the environment. Our top priority is finding the most sustainable solution at the most competitive price. We want to remind our clients that we’re just a phone call away for expert advice on how to reduce your landfill contribution and optimise your waste management solutions. Our contribution to saving the environment is making sure that you have positive, sustainable influence on your consumers. For more information and advice, speak to one of our experts on 1300 729 922 or contact us here.