How To Reduce Your Business’s Plastic Footprint 

By Tamara Davison on May 24, 2024
How To Reduce Your Business’s Plastic Footprint 
Tamara Davison
Tamara Davison

Tamara Davison is a journalist who specializes in sustainability and the environment. Reporting from around the world, she's seen firsthand the direct impact waste is having on coastal communities and our oceans. As a diver trained in ecological monitoring, the changes Tamara has seen in marine habitats inspired her to action. She's previously written for The Guardian, The Independent and the Evening Standard. She's also produced environmental documentaries for EuroNews.

According to the United Nations (UN), plastic pollution could triple by 2060 if we don’t do something about it. This isn’t just a warning — it's a call to action.

A lot of brands still rely on plastic in various parts of their business operations, from manufacturing to packaging. Despite mounting evidence of its negative environmental impacts, plastic production levels continue to rise. 

Reducing a business’s plastic footprint isn’t always easy. But the emergence of new technology,  services, and strategies can help brands rethink their plastic output. 

From offsetting initiates to alternative plastic materials, here’s how your brand can be part of the solution. 

Want to reduce your business’s plastic footprint? Get in touch with CleanHub’s in-house team to discuss how we can help and which plastic recovery plan best suits your business needs.


What’s on this page?

01 | The top ways to reduce your business’s plastic footprint
02 | Why is it important to reduce your business’s plastic footprint?
03 | Summary
04 | FAQs


The top ways to reduce your business’s plastic footprint

Experts estimate that the world produces around 380 million tons of plastic annually, which often ends as waste. 

Reducing your business’s plastic footprint benefits our planet, attracts conscious consumers, and inspires other businesses to do the same. Here’s what you need to do. 



1. Optimize the supply chain 

From raw material extraction to manufacturing and distribution, supply chains are usually robust and well-oiled machines comprising multiple components and organizations. However, they also contribute around 60% of global emissions and can negatively impact your plastic footprint

Overseeing plastic waste across the supply chain is complicated because of its multi-faceted nature. However, it's not impossible. By partnering with suppliers committed to the environment and implementing traceability technology, you can improve oversight of the plastic linked to your supply chain. 

Start by conducting assessments of your supply chain to identify areas where plastic use can be improved, such as the packaging you use when transporting your goods. Open up a space for discussion with your supply chain partners about ways to reduce plastic output together, perhaps by switching to lighter materials or exploring reusable alternatives. 

2. Rethink your packaging

Around 40% of plastic produced is destined for packaging — and in most cases, it’s single-use and quickly discarded by consumers after purchase. Unsustainable packaging like single-use plastic is a huge environmental problem and an area where businesses can dramatically improve their plastic footprint. 

Consumers also care about packaging, with almost two-thirds admitting that they were put off making purchases wrapped in unsustainable materials in a 2023 study. You can appeal to the growing consumer appetite by embracing alternative packaging materials. 

Implementing packaging materials like FSC-certified cardboard can reduce the plastic your business generates. There are also organic alternatives like mycelium, which naturally breaks down, or refillable glass containers that support a circular economy

As well as exploring more sustainable materials, optimizing the shape of packaging can go a long way. Statistics vary, but some studies claim up to 40% of packages are empty space, which wastes materials and adds to unnecessary costs. Explore bespoke designs and sustainable components to reduce shipping space, materials, and overall sustainability. 

3. Embrace plastic offsetting 

Plastic offsetting is an effective way to cut your business’s plastic footprint while supporting local communities and reducing ocean-bound waste. 

Unlike carbon offsetting, plastic offsetting relies on investments in plastic credits that fund waste collections and proper waste management worldwide. Brands can purchase or earn these credits to achieve plastic neutrality while showing their commitment to reducing plastic waste. 

This kind of initiative also unlocks vital support for communities on the front line of the climate crisis. With more than 2 billion people lacking access to proper waste management, plastic offsetting organizations can unlock employment opportunities and deliver local solutions through established recycling centers. 

Technology can now make it even easier for businesses to track their plastic offsetting projects. At CleanHub, we’ve developed a unique track-and-trace technology that allows businesses to see how much plastic has been collected on their behalf in real-time. This uses a combination of advanced QR codes and AI technology to create a transparent audit trail for all the waste collected. 

This useful information can be shared with customers and helps businesses ensure regulatory compliance. 


Rows of plastic bottles on a production line


4. Office initiatives

Office spaces are notorious for excess waste, such as plastic water cups, unnecessary printing, and e-waste. The rise of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) policies in the workplace has led to vast improvements in office sustainability, but there is still some way to go.

Even the smallest changes can go a long way. For example, providing staff with a sustainable drinking bottle can reduce plastic cup use and save costs in the long run. One study concluded that water dispensers save up to 24,000 plastic bottles annually, adding to cost savings. You can also provide reusable containers so staff don’t rely on unsustainable takeaway packages. 

Offices should also be spaces for education and communication. Encouraging your team to share their ideas on how to reduce waste in the office could lead to innovative initiatives. To keep the conversation going, try implementing a ‘plastic-free week’ and share information about progress regarding plastic reduction levels. 

5. Embrace a circular economy

A circular economy keeps things in circulation for as long as possible. It centers on the idea that waste doesn’t have to become waste at all, but can be reused and repurposed in the buying cycle. 

Alongside reducing your plastic footprint, working toward a circular economy can unlock a wealth of benefits, like positively impacting your brand image and attracting conscious customers who value sustainability. So, how can businesses embrace the idea of a circular economy? 

From fast fashion to electronic goods, the throwaway culture that centers on cheap manufacturing and maximum profit must change. Businesses can adopt circular economy practices by focusing on durability, reusability, and returns. Making products built to last can reduce waste, helping to support a more sustainable economy. 

Brands could also explore ways to make their products more recyclable, as this is a big part of the circular economy model. While recycling facilities are becoming more advanced, it's still difficult to recycle certain materials, especially when they’re combined with plastic. Prioritizing products made from mono-materials (just one type of material) could make this process a lot easier. 

Studies have also shown that consumers are more willing to pay for products that are part of take-back programs. Offering recycling and take-back programs helps you empower customers while showcasing your brand’s commitment to reducing waste. 

6. Champion transparency 

The bottom line is that reducing your plastic footprint is a work in progress. Going entirely plastic-free isn’t going to happen overnight, and in some cases, it's almost impossible. 

Being realistic about your plastic footprint can help you avoid greenwashing pitfalls and gain the trust and support of consumers and stakeholders. 

Transparency through regular reporting and communication allows you to track progress and outline how much is left to do. Set up a dedicated page to share this information with consumers, to encourage them to be part of your story. 



Why is it important to reduce your business’s plastic footprint?

Reducing your business’s plastic footprint obviously has positive impacts on the environment. It curbs plastic destined for landfills or our oceans, ultimately supporting wildlife and human health. However, the importance of reducing your business plastic footprint also goes beyond that. 

Extended producer responsibility (EPR) policies dictate a business’s role in post-consumer waste. Governments worldwide are introducing these policies, ultimately holding brands accountable for waste generated by their products. 

By reducing your plastic footprint, you can get ahead of the curve and avoid penalties for EPR failures. 

Brands that reduce their plastic footprint also tend to attract an improved brand image and wider consumer support. At a time when 91% of consumers say they’re concerned about plastic waste, businesses have to clearly show their commitment to this through transparent and tangible plastic reduction initiatives. 



Our planet’s plastic crisis has reached boiling point. But how long can we continue to ignore its impact? 

Action must start now if we’re to avoid the UN’s ominous warning about plastic pollution tripling within our lifetime. And like other parts of our society, businesses have a big role to play. 

Luckily, there are lots of tools and services available to help business leaders take the first step and do their bit for the environment. 

From cutting down office plastic to redesigning your product packaging, starting the journey to reducing your brand’s plastic footprint has never been easier. 

Want to find out how your brand can reduce plastic waste? Check out our guide on Capturing the Conscious Consumer, to discover the power of implementing sustainability and how CleanHub can help you with the transition.



How do you reduce plastic waste in business?

There are many different strategies that businesses can adopt to reduce plastic waste. From optimizing their packaging and supply chains to supporting consumers with recycling initiatives, every little bit can help. 

How can consumers reduce their plastic footprint?

Support brands that are doing their bit for the environment. Check labels and research brands online to familiarize yourself with the ones that have robust plastic reduction goals. In addition, help brands by supporting refill and return schemes and recycling whenever you can. 

What is the footprint of plastic?

We use the term plastic footprint to describe the total amount of plastic someone generates. This can be an individual, a company, a government, or a nation. Plastic footprints are usually measured by weight, and there are calculators available to help estimate the total amount. 

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