Since lockdown, the phrase ‘the new normal’ has picked up a buzz. It’s the way in which the world has adapted – and is still adapting - to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nobody can be sure what the new normal is going to look like in the next few months, or even years to follow, but this period of uncertainty has given us the time to reflect on our lives, our society and how we are affecting the planet around us.

It’s the time to embrace change and to start making positive impacts for good.

What is Green Recovery?

At the beginning of the pandemic, there was a radical drop in greenhouse gases in continents around the world. With flights ground to a halt, reduced public transport and offices closed, our impact on the environment was dramatically reduced.

However, as lockdown eases and workplaces spark back to life, so does our waste consumption.

This is where our businesses have the opportunity to step in and become leaders of a greener future. We need to focus on a green recovery.

It’s no longer about settling back into our old ways. Instead, it’s about making positive changes that are going to reduce emissions and help restore nature. We’ve been given a chance to start again, so it’s important we get it right.

What is the solution?

Before COVID-19, there was a huge push to understand and take action against the climate crisis. Greta Thunberg, a young environmental activist from Sweden, made it clear that we all have a responsibility to make changes if we want to save our planet. The UK government pledged to reduce greenhouses gases to zero by 2050 and many businesses were assessing ways they could provide greener workplaces.

The pandemic has shown us how fragile our relationship with nature is, so it’s now, more than ever, that we need to implement these plans. We’ve already seen small businesses in BIDs (business improvement districts) collaborating to make communities greener and safer. So, what else can organisations do to become green leaders in their community and industry?

Business Recycling

Since major cities have been in lockdown, the surrounding suburbs and villages have become a hive of activity. As people have been spending more time in their residential areas, it’s been incredibly important to keep communities green and clean. Local food stores, pharmacies, coffee shops and hardware stores have been working extra hard to manage waste atop the influx of customers.

That’s where recycling plays a major part in the green recovery. It’s vital that businesses use this time to find cost-effective ways to avoid rubbish going to landfill. Here at First Mile, we’ve been working to provide easy business recycling solutions to those boroughs outside of the Central London, as well as surrounding areas of London. If you’re unsure of what can be recycled, you can take a look at our Waste and Recycling services – you’ll be surprised at what ‘rubbish’ you can save.

Electric Vehicles and ULEZ Trucks

Green recovery doesn’t stop with dividing your waste into office recycling bins. We need to think about how it’s transported to the recycling plants. This is where electric vehicles and ULEZ (ultra-low emission zone) trucks come in.

At First Mile, we use both zero and ULEZ vehicles to pick up rubbish and recycling, and route-optimisation technology to ensure we take the most efficient routes. This way we reduce CO2 emissions as much as we possibly can. By using these methods of transport, businesses can actively help reduce air pollution in our towns and cities. It’s a win, win!

We also have a handy First Mile push bike that we use to deliver recycling sacks to businesses in central London.

Green Energy

Another simple way that businesses can move towards a green recovery, is to use green energy. By switching energy suppliers, you’ll not only be helping the planet, but it’ll cut costs. Energy can come from a number of sources including wind power, solar panels, hydroelectric power and even energy from waste (more on this in just a second). If you’re unsure where to start, make sure to register to hear about First Mile Energy — a scheme that will be launching very soon.

But What About Waste?

Unfortunately, there is still no way to totally eliminate waste. There are certain materials that just can’t be recycled.

Luckily, we’ve found a way to turn that unwanted rubbish into green energy.

First, we pick up general business waste and then take it to be sorted at our Sacktory where we pick out any recyclable items that may have been missed.

We then send the non-recyclable waste off to an Energy from Waste facility. Here, the waste is safely incinerated and the heat and electricity is captured. The energy is then fed into the national grid, while the heat is used to provide heating and hot water to 100,000 homes around the UK.

As for the burnt remains of the rubbish: this is reused for construction or aggregate. Voila!

Furthermore, we also offer safe PPE (personal protective equipment) disposal solutions. Knowing you can get rid of this easily and safely should encourage businesses to use it during the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here for more information.

Embrace the New Green Normal

Now that businesses have started to reopen, many face challenging and uncertain futures. Ensuring that your recovery and new normal is as green as it can be will not only lessen your footprint on the environment, but will keep you ahead of the game and make you a proud climate leader in your industry.

It comes down to one thing: without a green future, there is no future.