Can you imagine yourself walking along a desolate island staring out at a crystal blue ocean, sun on your face, sand between your toes? Complete isolation and then Ow, you tread on something! It’s a yogurt container. How did it get here you think? As you cast your eyes around you see a bit more, plastic spoon, plastic bottle and a toothbrush….

This is exactly what it is like for Cath Witten, an Australian girl living in Indonesia. When you see the images it is simply shocking and makes you wonder – are we doing enough to reduce our use of plastic?  Her story is compelling and although no one is perfect, highlights the need for us to change our habits.

We are in Plastic Free July a month dedicated to raising awareness of the problems with single-use disposable plastic and encouraging people to stop consuming it.

Immediately I started thinking about my role as an individual and then the role of our organisation, Tahbilk. As an individual it is pretty straight forward. People acting on their own complete a single function, we consume only, so we can choose to change tomorrow. We have a lot of choice. From the perspective of business I wish it was this simple.In the land of business you don’t perform a single function. You do a combination of four things; supply, consume, make and sell. Some businesses do all these functions, some only do a couple.

For Tahbilk our plastic use sits in one category – consume. We receive plastic from our suppliers and as part of our carbon footprint this falls into scope three emissions. Scope 3 emissions are Other Indirect Green House Gases, emissions which are a consequence of an organisations operations but not directly controlled or owned by the organisation.

This includes employee commuting/travel, third party distribution, purchased inward goods and emissions relating to disposal of products sold (amongst other things). For Tahbilk inwards freight and distribution is a large chunk of our scope 3 emissions.

While we are very adept at recycling our plastic (we recycle 99.9% of plastic which comes through our gates) and controlling our own plastic distribution (our customers all walk away with their wines safely tucked into handy reusable Tahbilk bags), we haven’t done a great job as yet changing the amount of plastic which comes onto the property.

As highlighted by the War on Waste, as a business we do have a responsibility towards our suppliers.

So Plastic Free July has raised a larger question for us which we plan on addressing –

While we can recycle every bit of plastic waste we can get our hands on, the process needs energy. Is it possible, as Plastic Free July asks to eliminate single use plastic in business? Not only individuals. And who will drive this behaviour?

From our perspective we need to make a more concerted effort to ensure we are driving positive behaviour through our supplier partnerships. So, it is time for us to focus on making sure we are part of the solution to ensuring plastic use is less and less common.

So thank you Plastic Free July for prompting this conversation in our organisation!

2017-07-25

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