It’s been about six months since our CEO, together with her colleagues across industries in Luxembourg, signed the IMS’ Zero Single Use Plastic Manifesto to cease the purchase and distribution of single-use plastics by 2020. Plastic cups, straws and stirrers have become part of daily office life, not to mention plastic bags designed to be used only once that pollute (pun definitely intended!) our modern daily lives. These items end in the oceans more often than not, with catastrophic consequences for the entire ecosystem. It is time to say STOP.

Ripping the band aid

Since we signed the manifesto we’ve been looking at how to reduce and even stop consuming single-use plastic. ING employs about 1,000 people in Luxembourg which translates into many plastic cups per year! What seemed like an easy to-do (just stop buying said cups) turned into a several-steps-plan that included not just ING but also main suppliers like Aramark, who provide cafeteria and restaurant services in ING Lux House.

The main component of the plan was, as always, our people. ING staff was supportive of the idea from the get-go… although changing habits is hard for everybody, which is why we decided to go cold turkey! A few years ago we got rid of individual printers and trash bins and reviewed our processes to reduce drastically the amount of paper we consume. A huge feat back then; today we don’t miss any of it. This past 4 March we removed all plastic cups, straws and stirrers from our coffee points. Yes, there was some head scratching at first but three weeks later nobody questions our Bring You Own Mug policy!

Use less, recycle more

72% of drinking water is contaminated in Europe. It’s not just oceans and rivers: plastic is now found in the drinks and foods we consume and even in the air we breathe. Disposable plastic is an issue we can no longer ignore.

Every one of us can change little aspects of their everyday life to reduce as much as possible the use of these plastics. Yoghurts and fruit salads are sold in glass jars in the cafeteria of ING Lux House (with a deposit-refund). We have introduced the EcoBox for our take away salads. We have become more aware of the packaging of the products we buy and where possible we turn to reusable solutions.

Not all plastic can be avoided, of course. At ING we pride ourselves in having the label SuperDrecksKëscht: we have several recycling bins in every floor to ease the task of sorting waste for it to be recycled properly (domestic waste, Valorlux plastics and metals, paper, glass, batteries). A little effort goes a long way: choosing to use less single-use plastic and then sorting and recycling what we can’t avoid will diminish and eventually stop the flood of plastic pollution we are currently dumping in our oceans.