Find out how practice manager Tony Harvey has been making Bayfields opticians more environmentally friendly.
What made you start the journey to greater sustainability?
For some time now, I have been personally concerned by the amount of waste we generate as a society. I try to recycle and reuse as much as I can at home, and I have extended this thinking to my various workplaces. Optical practices generate large amounts of plastic and cardboard and I see many opportunities for recycling, with improved sustainability.
What were your first steps?
I considered the work place as an extension of home , and I asked the team to support me with this. I made sure that the waste collection company could recycle paper and cardboard, and glass. I checked that the timers for the air con and lights were set for maximum efficiency, and introduced timer switches on other items like electric heaters. We separated out plastic, dummy lenses, rubber bands, batteries, ink/toner cartridges- any thing that can be recycled. We even started recycling the packaging from our snacks and lunches. Nothing too demanding, but it set a standard for the practice.
What challenges have you faced?
The waste collection companies will claim to recycle, but many just send all the waste to landfill . Waste handling capability varies enormously from town to town. It takes extra effort (and cost!) to collect and recycle plastic. There are many different types: some can be recycled locally, but some types cannot. Dummy lenses present a particular challenge. Polycarbonate and higher index materials cannot be recycled as they damage the blades on the crushers at the recycling plants, but it is difficult, and time consuming to identify and separate these. We had been putting shredded paper in the recycling until we found out that it cannot be recycled either!
What has worked really well?
Bayfields Opticians and Audiologists are really supportive of improved sustainability in the practices, because of the benefits this brings to both colleagues and clients. The CEO set up a work group to look at improving the green credentials of the company, and this Green Team then met on Zoom to discuss and share best practice.
This led to increased awareness at practice and support office level, and this has influenced things like increased recycling, energy saving efficiencies and supplier choice. It has even had an impact on the frames that we dispense.
In connection with The Lions, we have installed Glasses Recycling collection bins in every practice. We have set up a trial with a company called ReWorked to separate and collect non- recyclables (including dummy lenses )
What do you plan to do next to become even more sustainable?
We will continue to spread the word, and it is the aim to have a Green Ambassador in each practice to support better sustainability.