The British Institute of Facilities Management is due to publish its annual survey into sustainability this month, showing just how seriously the FM profession is taking the increasing demand for sustainable business
Like many industries, the facilities management (FM) sector is striving to make more efficient use of resources and reduce waste. Facilities managers are ideally placed to drive sustainability across major estates, helping to lead environmental improvements within organisations. In practical terms, this means careful management of all resources flowing in and out of a facility and diverting waste from landfill. As well as the environmental benefits, there are reputational, health and wellbeing and cost advantages too.
Plastic packaging is one of the resources that is omnipresent within facilities, from lining bins and sanitary units, to covering pallets, to food packaging, and for the safe containment of liquids such as cleaning products, for example.
We regularly have to remind people that, contrary to popular belief, plastics have a very resource-efficient profile – particularly those produced from recycled materials. The environmental costs of using plastics in packaging are nearly four times lower than if plastics were replaced by alternative materials over the full life cycle – see Plastics & Sustainablity, American Chemistry Council. This means sending plastics to landfill is a waste of resources. Crucially, responsibly produced plastics can be recycled effectively and efficiently, or used to generate energy from waste (EFW) at the end of their useful life.
FM managers are instrumental in ensuring these valuable materials do not go to waste. This starts with segregation of this material from other waste such as food waste or metals. This is vital to ensure that waste is stored, transported and ultimately recycled or disposed of in the correct manner. The fact is that poor segregation will lead to increased costs of disposal for many facilities, and may even result in prosecution if the waste is ‘mixed’ and is deemed no longer suitable for the waste treatment or disposal option that has been selected. In healthcare settings, for instance, segregation onsite is vital to maintain compliance with clinical waste regulation.
Meeting the needs of the FM market
So how are we supporting facilities managers pushing efficient, sustainable resource management practices? From a practical view point, our sacks, bags and speciality products for the storage, collection and recycling of segregated waste are fit for purpose, with the lowest environmental impact. We offer biodegradable and compostable bags holding internationally-recognised quality standards such as EN13432, which use the very latest technology to produce sustainable solutions.
When it comes to hygiene, washroom and sanitary waste supplies, facilities managers can further cut down on waste by choosing sanitary liners that include bactericides and fungicides added at the point of manufacture, during the film extrusion process. This saves time, money and resources by reducing and even eliminating the need to use separate anti-microbial/bacterial products during waste collection and disposal.
The most responsible producers of plastic will also have systems in place to support buyers’ recycling initiatives, and offer to collect ‘waste’ packaging and other material as part of a landfill diversion programme.