We understand during this challenging time businesses are doing what they can to keep afloat and the 'going green' budget may have been used up elsewhere to make ends meet.

But introducing some very basic changes into your company's waste policy is an affordable start and something that most businesses can take part in without putting any further pressures on budgets or labour.

As part of our Boost My Business initiative Fiona Alston caught up with entrepreneur Bobby Kerr to ask his advice on implementing a recycling strategy into the day to day running of your company.

During his time as chairman of the Insomnia coffee chain, Kerr recalls the company’s move to providing compostable cups and the "keep cup" initiative.

"I really noticed in around 2018 that the consumer was saying you need to give us this," he says. "The suppliers were a little bit behind they weren't quite ready for us. The first cups that came out, they leaked and you couldn’t rely on them."

"It was really interesting that customers were saying they wanted a compostable cup," he explains, "and they wanted to have a keep cup so they could recycle their cups, but the industry wasn't really ready to give it."

"Now, I think the industry has stepped up and put those things in place and now if you're not doing 'recyclable’ or ‘compostable’ people will go elsewhere - there's a good business reason to doing it," he advises.

Adding recycling bins into the daily routine is what most companies have already done but there is still a lot of confusion over which items go where.

Take a read of any item you assume can be recycled before tossing it in the bin and you might be surprised to find out that only parts of the packaging can go into the green bin – this issue is easy to solve if you create a recycling team within the business.

"If you delegate the responsibility of recycling to one person or a team of key people - maybe give them a small budget to get bins and clear signage - I think people would be tremendously empowered and can add to their portfolio," he says.

"It does help with morale, it does make the company feel better about itself and I think the individuals feel better about it - it doesn't have to cost a lot of money," he explains.

The pandemic has changed the perspectives of your customers.

Whether it’s working from home and spending more time in their local area or exploring the island of Ireland on their summer staycations, people have found a new appreciation for the beautiful countryside we live in and that in turn has shifted their thinking to preserving that.

Consumers are also looking to shop local and are seeking out the Irish companies who are doing their part to preserve the environment too.

"I think sustainability and good eco credentials around your packaging and what you do for the planet is becoming something that you have to have in your business - there's a commercial reason to being green," says Kerr.

"It's a good initiative to join Repak’s Team Green, why not? It's a good thing to do. You learn how to recycle properly," he suggests. "To promote a good eco story and play your part as a business, I think the rewards will come back to you commercially if you choose such a position."

One position business are struggling with is when it comes to PPE for their staff. Masks are an essential part of the uniform, but Kerr says you can still take care of the environment while ensuring staff safety.

"I personally think that reusable masks are much better," he says. "Employees should be encouraged to wash their own masks and should be given a stock of them – they are much more comfortable to wear as well."

"I think it's the single use ones which are already adding to the problem, but I accept they have a place," he continues. "I think where possible one should have one's own collection of masks – I’ve seven or eight of them, I even have Halloween ones now - you can put a bit of personality into them."

You can learn more about what items go into the recycling bin click here and for more sustainability tips for your business click here

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