Going Green in the Workplace: PNI's Waste Reduction Initiatives

Introducing: PNI’s Waste Reduction Program

Here at PNI, our team is composed of nature lovers – even the meeting rooms in our Vancouver office are named after the mountains in beautiful British Columbia. We decided it was time to take action and help make the world a cleaner place, which is where the Waste Reduction Program came in. Led by our in-house Culture Club team, the program launched on June 5 and has already made a noticable difference in our workplace.

It is far better to prevent the generation of waste than it is to recycle. You can only recycle waste that you have failed to prevent. So, place your emphasis on reducing waste if you can, then recycle the waste that you must generate.

- Business Resource Kit, Waste Reduction Week in Canada

Changes for a Greener Office

With collaboration from each department, we’ve implemented changes in the office to support our waste reduction efforts:

  • We recently introduced compost bins and it’s already become a natural habit for everyone to separate compost from garbage, like food, coffee grounds and napkins

  • We’re taking care of the planet with an office supply disposal box – an accessible and convenient approach to recycling old supplies instead of letting them collect dust

  • Plastic water bottles are long gone in our office – we now use water jugs and glasses for our on-site meetings and monthly town socials

  • Employees are contributing on a personal level with mini recycling bins at their desk, replacing sticky notes with reusable ones and white boards, and bringing their own eco-friendly straws

That’s not all. Our other waste reduction initiatives include adding sustainable hand dryers to our washrooms, transitioning from printed pay stubs to digital, and enabling paperless vacation requests!

Employee Prizes and Incentives

How did we encourage involvement in the Waste Reduction Program? By cultivating environmental awareness, and offering prizes and incentives. We kicked it off with an art contest where anyone could create a poster that promotes going green. The top three designs were featured in the office and the artists were rewarded with a monetary prize. 

In addition to our weekly shout-outs that recognize employees for their valuable contributions, we introduced eco shout-outs – acknowledging a teammate who goes the extra mile to take care of the environment. Whether they’re cycling to work every day or shutting off their monitors before leaving, they’re entered to win a weekly prize if their act is captured in a photo.

 One of our Eco Shout-Out winners, Daniel. Without thinking twice, he fished paper towel out of the garbage bin to make sure it was composted.

One of our Eco Shout-Out winners, Daniel. Without thinking twice, he fished paper towel out of the garbage bin to make sure it was composted.

Our Top Tips for Reducing Waste in the Office

As we rolled out the program, we educated employees by sharing weekly tips on sustainable development and how they can make a meaningful contribution. Within the initial weeks, making eco-friendly choices became a part of our everyday work life, and we learned that small changes can make big differences.

Some of our top tips for waste reduction include:

  • Use double-sided copying: when making copies, set your machine to use both sides of paper and cut your consumption in half

  • Turn off equipment when not in use: encourage employees to shut down printers and other equipment when they leave the office every evening

  • Recycle your e-waste: cell phones, computers, printers and other devices often can be recycled. Look for recycling programs in your area that accept these kinds of materials

  • Challenge employees to pack waste-free lunches

Expanding the Program

Our waste reduction efforts go beyond the office. Last month, a group of eager PNI volunteers headed to False Creek to take part in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. We collected heaping amounts of litter, helped make the space more enjoyable and safe, and shared a lot of laughs along the way.

 PNI volunteers took part in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup to help reduce waste in our community.

PNI volunteers took part in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup to help reduce waste in our community.

Plastic pollution is one of the biggest environmental challenges of our time, with statistics showing there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish by 2050. To change the future, we each need to play our part.

- A Guide for Organizations and Businesses, World Environment Day

The Waste Reduction Program is just getting started. Implementing feedback from employees, automatic light switches and working with our building and tech community are some of the exciting plans we have on our agenda. We’re continuing to take on initiatives that will create a greener community within PNI and out in the world.