How our Milan office is pioneering reduced plastic waste in preparation for new EU regulations
Our Milan, Italy, office has a sustainability working group created to bring “green” initiatives to fruition. They lead the Italian operation’s commitment to environmental sustainability, and a number of their members also belong to our Developing Professionals Group (DPG). When the idea of eliminating single-use plastic from the office arose, our DPG members leapt at the opportunity to lead the project effort.
The project, dubbed our Road to a Plastic Free Office, began in Milan and is extending to our Rome location. The overall goal? Eliminate single-use plastic, in line with the new European regulation coming into force in 2021.
The first milestone was distributing new waste separation bins throughout the office coupled with internal communications promoting the new initiative. The Milan office has always recycled waste, but a deeper analysis from the team showed that not enough bins were available and there was confusion on how to use them. The DPG deliberately purchased fewer plastic waste bins than those for paper, and soon we are eliminating single waste bins near each desk, as they can get filled with mixed waste, including plastic.
As their efforts progressed, the DPG recognized how partnership with vendors would be key to the success of this initiative. They spoke to our coffee machine vendor who suggested adding a photocell to the machine to detect the presence of a cup. This eliminates the automatic plastic cup dispensing. Everyone can use their individual cups, and the office has mugs on hand for client use. Eventually, plastic cups will be eliminated entirely as an option on the machine.
Further, the team is looking at other high-use plastic consumption activities like drinking water and cutlery. The team is investigating adding drinking water filters to faucets which will minimize and eventually eliminate the vending of water bottles for staff and meetings. Ceramic glasses and cups will be used instead.
As the DPG has helped move the Italian operation forward in creating a plastic free environment, La Repubblica, the second most popular Italian newspaper, dedicated an entire page to companies that have taken the biggest steps to become a plastic-free operation. In this article, Stantec is displayed as a pioneer company.
The Milan DPG will continue to progress their Road to a Plastic Free Office project and continue other environmentally sustainable efforts for the betterment of our community.