As we move to connect for a better future, we are committed to eliminating all non-essential plastics and disposable items by the end of March 2020. Here's how.
In retail shops
- Ban plastic bags
- Remove marketing materials/giveaways, or use alternatives with a lower environmental impact
- Encourage the use of reusable options in catering
- Ban plastic bottles
- 3. Eliminate single-use cutlery, plates, straws, stirrers, and single portions of condiments and seasonings
- Engage with catering service providers to ensure alignment
- Source reusable, recyclable, lower-impact office stationery
In addition, we've asked to reduce plastics packaging in warehouses by engaging suppliers to reduce, remove or recycle excessive packaging. Given the number of suppliers involved, this may take longer than March 2020, but we're determined to make it happen! We are also working with functions to eliminate waste from products as well as with the Vodafone Procurement Company to eliminate the availability of certain replaceable items in the product catalogue.
Points to keep in mind when eliminating plastics
- Reusability takes priority. Opt for disposable alternatives (for example, paper cups) only if a fully reusable alternative (such as keeping cups and reusable water bottles) is not feasible. Restrict the availability of disposable alternatives and ensure that the most environmentally conscious option is the easiest and most convenient option.
- Avoid replacing bad with worse. Paper, card, wood and bamboo are common alternatives for direct replacement of disposable plastics. While these products may create less plastic waste, they may have more significant environmental impacts during production, transport and end-of-life. (For example, McDonald's encountered significant criticism after shifting from recyclable plastic straws to nonrecyclable paper straws.) Avoid oxo-biodegradable plastics (as these can lead to more microplastics) and 'compostable' plastics (as these often need separate waste collection and specific composting environments and therefore cannot be placed in regular recycling streams).
- Think creatively. Get creative to make the environmental choice the easiest and lowest cost choice. This can be achieved through, for example, making disposable items less available and adding additional token charges for their use.
- Think beyond your four walls. While the current focus is on eliminating plastics in our retail shops and offices, feel inspired to think beyond: how can you encourage local vendors to go plastics-free? How can we incentivise customers?
- Behaviour change is key. We will all need to shift attitudes and break old habits. Creating incentives to do so and role-modelling the changes at senior level will help.
Interested to know more about Vodacom's planet-saving initiatives? Click here for more Connecting for Good inspiration.