Sometimes you just know when a relationship is dead. No one really wants to talk about it because there’s not much left worth saving. You know it’s time to walk away, but it’s awkward because you see them everywhere, yet you know it’s time to finally leave the past in the past. The relationship we’re talking about is corporate America’s love affair with the single-use plastic water bottle. And we’ve got some news for you, it’s so freakin’ over!
Over as in, “it IS you, not me.”
Over as in, “plastic, I never really liked you anyway.”
Over as in, “what was I thinking?!”
Over as in, “it’s going to be a messy breakup, but someone’s gotta pull the plug.”
But who will be the first one to make the move?
A Movement to BAN Workplace Single-use Plastic Water Bottles
Following in the path of cities like San Francisco, who have banned the on-site sale of single-use plastic water bottles, Salesforce and Intuit have joined the movement in this same vein. Salesforce now leads in sustainability efforts and has created an example for other major tech companies to follow suit. PATHWATER has teamed up with both Intuit and Salesforce to offer a sustainable, non-plastic alternative for convenient purified bottled water. Because of this, the Salesforce team has stopped roughly 35,000+ plastic water bottles from being purchased, used, and ultimately dumped. This is derived from the fact that although the bottle is infinitely refillable, people on average reuse their aluminum PATHWATER bottle a minimum of 5 times before recycling it. These simple changes to a company’s sustainability policy and materials-first purchasing practices have enormous impacts on the quality of life for everyone.
Workplace WINS for Banning Single-Use Plastic Water Bottles
- Improves employee health & wellness
- Enhances office culture
- Cuts carbon
- Reduces dependence on petroleum-derived products
- Ensures brain health by helping staff avoid microplastic exposure
- Reduces waste & associated fees
- Improves employee commitment to sustainability
- Better for our planet, our oceans, and our local economies
- Contributes to more impactful Sustainability Initiatives
- Lightens the burden on landfills
As more business leaders begin to reconcile the impact that single-use plastic water bottles have on our planet and our health, the PATHWATER team is committed to offering education and solutions for making more sustainable business purchasing decisions.
Sustainability Measures Must Address Workplace Waste
It is imperative that tech leaders begin implementing sustainability measures as a standard operating procedure, for staying relevant, and also for mitigating the harm of plastics on employee and planetary health. These measures don't just include more efficient building systems, renewable energy, and LED lighting but also the day-to-day waste that is involved in a typical workday at a typical workplace. Our days are so busy that when we have a chance to reflect on how much waste we individually generate, we begin to see just how quickly the waste piles up.
From 10,000 sheets of paper to 156 single-use plastic water bottles per year, office workers naturally go through a lot of waste. The figures from the image above were supplied by Road Runner Smart Recycling, and of all the waste discovered to be generated by an average office worker, we found that the most unnecessary source of waste was single-use plastic water bottles. That’s because the process of creating single-use plastic is unsustainable at best. The fossil fuels drilled to produce the bottle, the health risks that are associated with drinking out of a plastic bottle, and the fact that plastic takes more than 450 years to decompose, all account for the reasons we can no longer reconcile this waste. There are so many better, and just as convenient, ways to do water. Grab a cup, carry a reusable bottle, buy a reusable PATHWATER, you name it! Nearly anything is better, and these habits are even more impactful when they become a part of company culture and the societal norm.
How Many Plastic Water Bottles do Major Tech Companies Use?
The question really is, how much could they save? We’ve taken a headcount of employees at 13 of the top tech companies in the U.S. to estimate the impact they would have on the plastics crisis by implementing a company-wide ban that would ideally influence employee behavior across their entire lifestyle to carry reusable water bottles.
Considering that the average American uses 156 single-use plastic water bottles every year and with a workforce totaling 1,721,869 (from the companies listed above), we calculated that if each employee changed their single-use consumption across their entire lifestyle as a result of influence and education, this would potentially stop about 268,611,564 plastic bottles from being “singly-used” every single year.
Albeit, there are people from the companies above that carry reusable water bottles already. These numbers don’t include the scope of the people visiting for meetings, conferences, and other work-related cross-company events where visitors are given or purchase single-use plastic water bottles.
Corporate America’s Plastic Water Bottle Break-Up
Now, more than ever, tech companies have a chance to lead the way with smarter choices. Especially as we’re faced with trade policies that ban most of our plastics going to China, dubbed “Foreign Garbage.” As of January 2018, many of our plastics are literally at a standstill with nowhere to go for processing.
The way out of the literal plastic mess we’ve made is going to take a materials-first approach when it comes to manufacturing and purchasing decisions. No amount of designer suits from the Will-i-am’s Coca-Cola plastic bottle line will save us now. No offense, Will-i-am, we love you, we just want better solutions, and we’re sure you do too. It’s time corporate America rip off the band-aid and break up with the cheap, trashy material that is the single-use plastic water bottle.
The answer to waste is not just recycling. The answer to waste management is to consider the complete cost-benefit for each material we manufacture with, purchase, and ultimately bring into the market and our corporate offices. We must consider the entire impact that our decisions have on our staff’s health, our ability to be innovative, our growing waste streams, our relevancy, and our responsibility to the future.