Waste in the Workplace: The Case of a Drive-Through

While working, have you ever noticed how much waste your workplace actually throws away on a daily basis?  Have you ever tried to encourage your employer or your fellow employees to try and limit the waste they do discard? It is a difficult task to try and persuade someone to limit, while it is easier to just toss it away for someone else to deal with. So what can we do to help persuade others to limit what they discard? I will talk about some of the issues I have encountered working at a drive through/carry out and some ideas that I have came up with to reduce the amount of waste that we discard.

One waste product that gives us the biggest headache is boxes. It seems that every product that we carry is packaged in a box.

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Imagine throwing out 5 or 6 of these a day.

In some cases such as alcohol that come in twelve packs, are packaged in the actual casing and then packaged even more, with a box surrounding it. My workplace is basically a building that is stacked with boxes. Sometimes in one shift I get the unpleasant task of carrying out five to six large trash cans full of these boxes that seem to just pile up every week. It is an unpleasant scene, to see all of this waste accumulate in such a small amount of time. While this is one of our biggest waste products this is not the only one that gives us issues.

Other waste products that are accumulated at this drive through are bottles and fast food containers. These waste products come in larger amounts than you would think. Water bottles are a big issue.  All of the bottles that employees use go into the waste stream and a majority of pop bottles that customers buy, also go into the waste stream. If fifty customers a day buy three bottles of pop a day everyday that comes out to 54,750 bottles a year, and this is an underestimation. Many people tend to buy more than this.

Food waste and food containers are another big issue. My employer lets his friends loiter in the guns shop that is connected to the drive through, where he buys most of them lunch and sometimes dinner almost every day. If you could imagine how many food containers and food that goes to waste; if there are leftovers they never get eaten, because they just buy more food the next day.

So imagine all this waste and where it all goes, imagine if there were more places like this establishment. I have suggested some minor changes that do not follow through, such as getting a recycling bin, so that they can at least save their cans that they throw away.

Some other tips that I have thought of while taking this sustainability course are how to reduce the amount of boxes that we throw out. One way we could deal with the boxes, is to shred them. My employer ships many items and he could use the shredded boxes for packaging, instead of using bubble wrap, which also seems to go to the trash heap. We do use some of the boxes for shipping, but that is a small fraction compared to the number discarded.

There is no easy solution for all the bottles that are bought and thrown away. One idea is that they could recycle them, or businesses like ours and the pop bottling companies should come up with program; a program that promotes an incentive if they bring the bottles back, so they can be used again for their pop consumption.

The issue of waste management is a big issue, but it only takes little actions to make a difference. Anyone can take these actions and can help improve the Earth. Making these changes not only helps the environment but it also helps you feel better about yourself.

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