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Plastic pioneers

Our Germany colleagues got together to show that if each of us makes a small contribution, we can change big things

In response to the global plastic problem, colleagues in Germany have pledged to reduce their plastic consumption as part of the Group’s global #RethinkPlastic campaign.

Turning off the tap on plastic

When it comes to plastic, the world has a major, long-term problem. It’s estimated that it might take 200 years for a single plastic straw to decompose in the ocean. For a single plastic bottle cap, the same process might take 1,000 years. Combined together, there are 150 million tonnes of plastic circulating in our marine environments – and another eight million are added each year. 
Capgemini believes that solving this global issue goes beyond cleaning up the natural environment. What it requires is stopping the problem at the source – by ‘turning off the tap’. It is one reason why, as part of the #RethinkPlastic campaign, we had made a global commitment to reducing our plastic consumption. If every plastic straw counts, then even small changes in behavior can contribute towards the bigger impact required to safeguard the environment. 

We want to make a contribution to tackling one of the highest-profile environmental problems of our time. The actions of colleagues right across Capgemini are key to this effort.

Germany’s plastic ambassadors

As part of this effort, colleagues across the world have made a strong commitment to reducing their plastic consumption. Matthias Wolf, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager for Capgemini Germany, says that a team of ‘plastic ambassadors’ is leading efforts in the region. 
“Here in Germany, we’ve committed to reducing plastic by thinking differently about single-use kitchen items, branded merchandise, disposable water bottles, and purchases we make from suppliers,” says Matthias. “Some of our colleagues have made a ‘plastic pledge’ to make reduced use of plastic a top priority, and to be more conscious about their buying decisions generally.” 

Karen Görner, a test analyst based in Erfurt, is a plastic ambassador. She was motivated to get involved in the campaign after hearing about the harm plastic was causing to marine life. “Reports of animals dying from eating plastic moved me to change my habits,” she says. “One way of avoiding plastic is by using toothpaste tabs in paper packaging, and a bamboo toothbrush.”

Another ambassador, Thomas Wehr, a business analyst based in Berlin, has reduced the amount of plastic he uses by changing his eating habits. He says: “Bringing home-cooked lunch to work in my lunchbox ensures I eat a more balanced diet – as well as avoiding pointless plastic waste.”

Mariam Chaari, a consultant based in Berlin, also a plastic ambassador, is convinced about the power of individual actions to solve big problems. “By changing nothing, nothing changes,” she says. “If everyone makes a small, individual contribution, we can change something. When it comes to plastic, I now reflect on my behavior every day, and try to use alternatives.”

Small actions, big changes

As part of the campaign, the team in Germany held a competition in 2019 to collect ideas on how to avoid plastic in work and at home, with rewards like metal straws, cookbooks, and metal bento boxes. The team also introduced ‘plastic-free Fridays’, and sourced 4,000 non-plastic food bags for fruit and vegetables, to replace plastic ones.

Matthias sums up the spirit of the campaign, while acknowledging the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic: “As a business, we want to make a contribution to tackling one of the highest-profile environmental problems of our time. The COVID-19 crisis will pose new challenges to how we achieve this, but our core drive to reduce unnecessary waste is here to stay. The actions of colleagues right across Capgemini are key to this effort. I want to thank them all for getting involved, and urge everyone to #RethinkPlastic.”

Changing mindsets in India

Capgemini teams across different regions also contributed widely to this campaign. Capgemini India ran a series of behavioral change initiatives including an event called the Bottle Cap Challenge to reduce plastic bottle usage. All Capgemini India colleagues were also provided with a reusable steel bottle.

    Thinking sustainability in Brazil

    Capgemini Brazil provided all employees with a sustainability kit containing a squeeze bottle, a mug, and a sustainable ecobag.

      No to plastic bottles in Europe

      The campaign was met with huge enthusiasm in the rest of Europe. Colleagues in the UK, for example, introduced a high-capacity cleaning system to replace the need for plastic cleaning bottles, while Capgemini Netherlands introduced biodegradable stirrers, straws, cutlery, and water bottles.

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