As more people become aware of the terrible global problems created by the rapidly-increasing consumption of plastic, we are targeting plastic consumption in everything we do.
We have become the first major provider in the UK’s private care home sector to begin a group-wide reduction of single-use plastic.
Residents, families and team members are all feeding in ideas on how to eliminate avoidable non-recyclable plastic and replace it with environmentally friendly alternatives.
The ‘Caring, without plastic’ campaign began at Abbey View in Sherborne with the forming of a residents-and-staff committee. At a kick-off meeting residents, including a former domestic science teacher and a dairy manager, reflected on life before plastic was so common.
Points raised included the benefits of reusable glass milk bottles and putting plates over spare food for pantry storage rather than in plastic containers.
One of the first projects at Abbey View has been to cut the large number of plastic bags used for removing rubbish and waste.
Previously, housekeeping staff re-supplied a plastic liner every day for the bin in each of the 52 residents’ en suite rooms. Now, instead of using a bin bag, waste is removed into a trolley container on the rounds and the individual bin is cleaned out there and then as part of infection control.
The home estimates this will save nearly 19,000 bags from landfill each year.
The trial has been so successful, the same approach is being rolled out across all 20 of our homes, offering the potential to avoid 365,000 plastic bags a year.
An anti-bacterial ‘magic water’ dispenser is also being adopted to cut down on the number of bottles of cleaning liquid being used. This is expected to see 19,000 fewer plastic bottles used per year when the roll-out is complete. The cartridges that produce the magic water will be collected by a supplier and re-used.
On the nutrition side, we have removed all single-use plastic straws from our catering services, replacing them with ones that are fully biodegradable. This will remove around 480,000 pieces a year.
Other initiatives include replacing disposable plastic water cups by water coolers with recyclable paper ones, changing the coffee packaging used in foyer coffee machines to a non-plastic alternative, and laundry staff replacing disposable latex gloves with washable, re-usable ones.
“We are targeting plastic consumption in everything we do,” said Tim Wookey, our Director of Marketing and Companionship.
“Our residents have exactly the same environmental concerns as their families, our staff and suppliers, and everyone else. The truth is that more and more people are becoming aware of the terrible global problems created by the rapidly-increasing consumption of plastic.
“We feel that now is the time to make radical changes within our business to be part of a solution that improves the communities in which we operate.
“It’s all about leading the way and making a positive difference.”