Royal Mail Group Environmental Initiative – Reducing Consumption of ‘Single Use Plastics’ – Phase One – Removing Plastic Drinking Cups from Royal Mail Offices
To: All Branches
As Branches, Reps and Members will know, the Union’s consistent Conference Policy is for the Union to continue working as an organisation and with employers to contribute positively to protecting our environment by reducing pollution, reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill and to press for government to enforce regulations that keep our water and air clean.
You will be aware that plastic wastes are causing significant concern and can’t fail to have noticed the general publicity being given to the menace of ‘single-use plastics’ in the environment. The proliferation of waste plastics in the environment, particularly the oceans, has become a serious concern and is attracting increasing attention, not only from environmentalists and the world media but within the business and social communities and the public in general.
‘Single-use plastic’ is any plastic that is generally only used once before being disposed of or recycled. Common examples surround us in our day-to-day lives, including: plastic bags, water bottles and bottle tops, plastic cups and plastic food wrappers.
Recycling plastic rather than throwing it away is a great first step, but even recycling the plastic is more costly than recycling other materials. ‘Single-use plastic’ comes in a wide range of types which must be handled differently. In order to be recycled they first have to be separated. Also, not all plastics can be recycled. Therefore, the ideal solution is to reduce the ‘single-use plastics’ that are consumed.
The CWU Health, Safety & Environment Department has been in discussions with Ron Symonds Royal Mail Group Head of Environmental Sustainability to look at what Royal Mail Group, as one of the UK’s largest employers, with revenue of £10 Billion, can do to make a contribution to reducing plastic use and waste reduction.
As a start towards making a difference by removing or replacing ‘single-use plastic’ items from Royal Mail networks, it has been proposed that the programme would start by removing plastic drink cups supplied to Royal Mail sites as last year a staggering 4.4 million plastic cups were consumed by Royal Mail staff. It has been agreed that this can be done with little or no impact on the front line workforce, replacing plastic cups with bio-degradable paper cups as well as promoting re-use of cups and encouraging members to refill their own bottles, containers, cups and glasses from water dispensers and taps, if they so wish.
The July Edition of Royal Mail Courier (see page 11) carries a ‘plastics’ competition aimed at identifying other ‘single use plastics’ to target for removal.
Royal Mail Group is also considering a donation of a proportion of the cash savings made this financial year from ‘single-use plastics’ removal to the Royal Mail Group nominated charity ‘Action for Children’ and the ‘Rowland Hill Fund’ which supports members of staff in need.
The CWU fully supports the drive to protect our planet and the drive to reduce the use of ‘single use plastics’ due to the growing negative environmental impact of these materials.
Offices can still order water cups but they will be supplied with biodegradable paper cups instead of single use plastic. Offices can order them through the normal channels and should be receiving instructions on the re-order process imminently.
Additionally, and this is preferable from an environmental point of view, members can use their own reusable, refillable cups, bottles and containers if they prefer.
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer