Shocking images of the impact that plastic waste is having on our oceans, land and wildlife have led to many of us taking a more responsible stance, both at home and in the workplace, as well as putting pressure on the organisations we buy our goods and services from to operate more sustainably.
Research highlighting the extent and impact of the problem combined with pressure from environmental groups, experts and ordinary citizens has prompted the European Parliament to back a wide-ranging ban on single-use plastics to help tackle the damaging pollution, now widely acknowledged to have reached crisis point.
As part of this directive, plastic straws, cotton swabs, disposable plastic plates, cutlery and other single-use plastics could be banned altogether by 2021. The Parliament has also set a target to recycle 90% of plastic bottles by 2025.
From the halls of power to boardrooms and meeting rooms, increased public awareness has also placed increased scrutiny on businesses when it comes to corporate social responsibility.
Protecting the Planet – why businesses need to take responsibility
Consumers and business customers are now much more likely to buy goods and services from companies that can demonstrate clear sustainability initiatives and a responsible attitude towards waste, with the latest research by global brand Unilever finding that as many as a third of consumers (33%) are choosing to buy from brands that they believe are doing social or environmental good.
As with any business initiative however, some environmental goals are easily achieved while others will require investment in time and budget, as well as a change in mindset or new ways of operating.
Up the chain, just as your own customers will increasingly be looking to your business to act responsibly on waste, your organisation should likewise challenge its existing partners and suppliers to make sustainability a priority, as well as ensuring waste and environmental considerations are part of the decision-making criteria when selecting new suppliers.
For many years, OKI Europe has taken environmental responsibility seriously and continues to look for new ways to reduce the amount of produced materials that go to landfill. This has included instigating and funding initiatives that enable customers to return both hardware and consumables for recycling and using increasing amounts of recycled materials in our packaging.
A Digital World is not Waste Free
Today’s digital world continues to create high global demand for electronic equipment, which in turn makes waste of electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) one of the fastest growing refuse streams internationally.
Treating sustainability as an ongoing priority, as a trusted organisation in the technology industry, as well as complying with environmental regulations we continually look for new ways to reduce the amount of materials that go to landfill by working to improve recycling rates and minimising the environmental impact of waste linked to our products.
Some of our own important actions on the issue include introducing lead-free solder in 2006. In 2004, we also introduced an extremely successful consumables recycling programme that enables customers to return their used toner cartridges so we can arrange for their safe, effective and bulk recycling.
Making it Easy for Customers to Play their Part in Protecting the Environment
The hassle-free process means customers simply apply online for pre-paid returns labels or recycling bins and we take care of the rest, resulting in 98% of OKI Original Consumables being recycled. And over the past 7 years OKI has recycled over 2000 tonnes of toner cartridges, that’s the equivalent to approximately 3,500 Polar Bears or 18 Blue Whales, just two types of marine mammals that require our protection.
Used toners are dismantled and cleaned and the plastics are turned into useful household items. Did you know for example your garden furniture could well have been manufactured from recycled toner cartridges? Even leftover toner is extracted and the pigment is reused in exterior paint. The recycling of empty toner cartridges prevents toner from entering the environment and keeps plastic out of landfill sites.
From design and development to manufacture, OKI Europe places a strong emphasis on resource-saving, using technology to balancing energy-saving with performance and working towards a longer-term goal to establish products that can be almost entirely recycled.
As with most organisations, we are mindful of the requirement to balance innovation and commercial goals with environmental obligations and the need to support customers to act responsibly on waste. For these reasons, we continue to champion the use of OKI Original Consumables that, unlike third-party compatibles, help to maximise the quality and life of our printers while helping to protect the environment through the safe and responsible recycling of used toner cartridges.
As the emphasis shifts from saving the planet for future generations to the absolute requirement to act now to slow the unrelenting pace of the plastic and other waste causing catastrophic damage to our environment, we can no longer afford to turn a blind eye when it comes to environmental issues. Instead, as businesses and individuals, we all must take responsibility and act now to live and work more responsibly and support others to do the same.
To find out about OKI Europe’s recycling programme visit OKI Europe.