Britain’s workplaces are still shamefully eco-unfriendly – say 45 per cent of their staff

A lack of food waste bins, computers constantly running and printers endlessly churning out paper are some of the top green gripes among workers.

Others are annoyed by kettles being boiled all day, lights being left on and a stack of single-use cups by the water cooler.

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The survey of 2,000 office workers found 46 per cent believe the introduction of green initiatives in their workplace is an 'afterthought', while six in 10 claim employees are left to take the lead.

And more than a third are disappointed their employer didn’t use the lockdowns of the past 18 months to implement and improve eco practices.

Paper towel recycling system

The research was carried out by hygiene and health company Essity, which commissioned the survey to launch Tork PaperCircle, the UK’s first paper towel recycling system, which is being installed in Astra Zeneca’s new UK office.

This recycling service enables businesses to go 'circular' by collecting and recycling used paper hand towels and turning them into new tissue products, converting waste into a resource.

Essity’s spokesman said: "We spend so much of our time in the workplace, so it's a perfect place to set an example.

“There has been a definite shift over the past 18 months in our general attitudes towards how to be environmentally friendly – people now seem to be taking the issue more seriously than ever before.

“Working from home has led to people giving more thought to their own actions towards the future of the planet, and it seems many had assumed their employers would give the same attention to the workplace.”

Maintained efforts to go green

The study found 42 per cent of adults became far more eco conscious while working from home, while 46 per cent maintained their efforts to go green.

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As a consequence, almost four in 10 admit they are more aware than ever before of how green their office is, but 48 per cent acknowledge their employer probably doesn’t encourage better practices due to the cost.

A further 38 per cent aren’t sure their boss actually knows how to implement good eco measures, while 40 per cent say they don’t appear to care for the planet at all.

But a resounding eight in 10 adults do want to see a more environmentally friendly office – and an end to things like running taps, petrol company vehicles, paper drinks cups going into general waste and electric hand dryers wasting energy all day.

If employers were to initiate more eco-friendly practices, six in 10 office workers believe all staff would react positively, according to the OnePoll data.

Measures such as desk plants to improve air quality (36 per cent), bringing in use of recycled products – from paper towels to printer paper (35 per cent) and turning off all lights, electricity and heating every evening (33 per cent) would be well received.

While a fifth would like to see use of eco-friendly cleaning products, one quarter welcome green initiatives to get everyone involved and 27 per cent want to see employers encourage green commuting.

This comes after many are frustrated to have returned to work to see no electric car charging ports, no bicycle storage and no cycle to work scheme.

Considered quitting

In fact, adults are now taking their carbon footprint so seriously, one in five has considered leaving a job due to the lack of green practices in the workplace.

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The spokesman for Essity said: “There are small measures employers can take to be ‘greener’ without breaking the bank.

“Being eco-friendly can be a daunting task, particularly if you don’t know too much about how to improve things.

“But there are simple steps, such as improving recycling practices and reducing use of energy, which cost very little.”


1. No food waste bin

2. People putting food in the general waste

3. People mixing recycling

4. Computers always being connected to charging cables

5. Lights buzzing all day

6. Computers left on at night

7. No electric car charging ports

8. No option to recycle used paper towels

9. The printer endlessly churning out paper

10. No incentive to encourage people to use electric vehicles

11. People not cleaning recycling

12. Old computer parts / unused technology clogging up office space

13. People washing things by hand (and leaving the tap running while doing so)

14. A kettle being boiled constantly all day

15. Paper drinks cups being thrown in the general waste bin

16. Heating on unnecessarily

17. Company vehicles all petrol or diesel

18. Nowhere to dispose of plastics and paper responsibly

19. Heating on while the windows are open

20. No incentives to lift share

21. Food wastage – such as free treats just being binned at the end of the day

22. Only providing cow’s milk rather than other alternatives

23. Stack of single-use cups by the water cooler

24. Leaving lights on during the night

25. No bicycle storage

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26. No option to work from home to reduce pollution travelling to work

27. No cycle to work schemes in place

28. Electric hand dryers using energy all day

29. A fridge stacked with plastic water bottles

30. Appliances that don’t have a good energy rating and are used all day

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