Business is crucial to the economic and social health of Saigon and similar cities, but it can also have a marked effect on waste production. The World Bank report that cities globally put out 2.01 billion tonnes of solid waste yearly, with businesses a big contributor to the growing heap of rubbish blighting urban spaces. While the ins and outs of business can make waste management difficult, there are actually multiple intuitive ways that businesses can use to help themselves and employees to go waste free.
Vietnam has a problem with waste packaging of food. In December 2018, the UK’s Guardian newspaper reported that most of the 8bn tetrapak cartons sold in Vietnam were littered on beautiful beaches. This is without even considering the myriad of other packaging materials, such as plastic and paper. An innovative way to tackle this is through providing food at work. Many services provide regular food parcels that can provide the basis of nutritious food, all within the workplace. This can benefit productivity and happiness, too; recruitment website Indeed conducted a study that found 67% of employees provided with food at work were happy, compared to just 56% otherwise. Multiple businesses are already taking this zero waste idea to heart with food; VietCetera reported that Zero Waste Saigon and Green Around The Corner had already become waste neutral with food and packaging.
Taking advantage of digital technology
According to World Atlas, paper has a significant environmental impact. Its production creates waste chemicals like chlorine and air pollution, and paper waste forms 26% of all waste materials consumed globally. Xerox estimate, therefore, that one piece of paper emits 5g of CO2. Conversely, research has shown that emails cost only 0.3g of CO2 per issue. Businesses should look to make the complete to conversion to being digital-only wherever possible. This shouldn’t be an issue for most consumers – The Pie News estimate that internet penetration is 67% in Saigon, meaning that the majority of people can be reached via digital means. In Ho Chi Minh Council, executives have started running paperless meetings, reducing energy usage by 40%, according to The Saigon Times, and this is set to spread to other businesses.
Water is one of the key fronts of environmental change. Vietnam, despite having seasonal rain, is suffering from the same water shortages as other countries. The Saigoneer even reported that Saigon is facing water shortages due to the environmental impact of rising sea levels; salt levels are being increased in the important Saigon and Dong Nai river basin. Despite what the weather presents, this means that water needs to be conserved. Businesses with the resources should look to install newer technology in their toilet and service areas to conserve water. Furthermore, employees should be encouraged to minimize their own usage. Moving to reusable bottles is an important point; this will reduce plastic waste, as well as aquifer depletion. According to a 2016 in the Journal of Environmental Science, Computer Science and Engineering & Technology, bottle water usage is causing significant depletion of aquifers worldwide.
Businesses are a big contributor to waste, and they should try and big changes to their behavior to help challenge the problem. Solid waste and water are two areas where simple changes can have a big impact. For your business to go waste free, start making a change today.
Cassandra Everett is a former food production and design specialist turned freelance writer. She is passionate about minimizing waste and finding sustainable solutions for our environment. When not working she loves to travel, spend time in the great outdoors and play badminton.