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A third of workers not environmentally responsible at work, research finds

22 August 2019

One in three workers say they feel no responsibility to be environmentally friendly in the workplace, according to new research conducted by commercial drainage company Metro Rod.

In the survey of over 2,200 full-time and part-time workers, 45 per cent said overall responsibility for good environmental practice fell to senior leadership and management teams.

This lack of accountability resulted in a large number of respondents admitting that they paid no consideration to a number of issues that have a significant impact on building facilities and the working environment. This included 26 per cent saying they did not worry about drains at work as their businesses will pay to repair them; and 20 per cent saying they cared less about recycling at work as it isn’t their responsibility.

31 per cent admitted they had done one of the following in the workplace:

  • Flushed wet wipes down the toilet;
  • Poured fat down the drain;
  • Poured uneaten food down the drain;
  • Poured oil down the sink; or
  • Poured grease down a drain.

Respondents also reported a range of factors that influence their likelihood of being environmentally friendly in the workplace, with 28 per cent saying they were less likely to take this into consideration when they are busy. A further 20 per cent said they were less likely to be environmentally friendly when tired and 17 per cent said they didn’t bother at work because their actions would make no difference to their employers’ environmental impact.

The research also highlighted the different attitudes that respondents demonstrated towards environmental issues at home compared to the workplace.

While 91 per cent of local authority employees reported engaging in environmentally friendly practices, such as recycling in the workplace, this was significantly lower than the 99 per cent who engaged in the same practices at home. This 8 per cent drop is the equivalent of 2.6 million of the UK’s 32.54 million workers not acting in an environmentally responsible way at work despite doing so at home.

Four in five respondents reported having never received any environmental impact training at work while nearly half (47 per cent) reported not being involved in shaping their organisation's environmental policies. 

Peter Molloy, MD at Metro Rod, said: “We’re making a serious call for organisations to reinforce the collective responsibility we all have to protect the environment from a business point of view to ensure our UK workforces are playing their part in futureproofing our local and national eco-systems for many years to come.”

To help encourage this behaviour, Metro Rod has produced a guide summarising its research findings, which includes top tips on improving workplace environmental responsibility. It can be downloaded here

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