News & insights

SF Recruitment Removes Plastic from its Business

By Fiona Frudd

Can you tell me about what inspired the change to rid the business of plastic in favour of bamboo? 

When I arrived at SF Recruitment, it became clear that client gifting was important to the business. However, I soon noticed that many of these gifts were plastic-based and, as a forward-thinking business with likeminded clients, I wanted to change this.

Inspired by articles by the University of Birmingham on microplastics, and the many images on the harm plastics can have on nature, we wanted to make a positive change. Of course we’ve all seen the horrible images of turtles and fish with plastic waste wrapped around them. Here in Birmingham, that can sometimes feel like a million miles away from us. However, all plastic breaks down over time into microscopic particles that we all can’t see. Whether travelling the waterways all the way from the Midlands, to the water that the fish we eat take in, or discarded here and broken down into our soil or indeed washed off clothes by our washing machines it is all around us.  Birmingham University lead research into the damage of plastics and explained how they are absorbed into our eco-system. They are increasingly in the food we eat, the water we drink and are even believed to be airborne and being inhaled into our bodies.  A terrible stat I read, compounded it all – that over 80% of tap water samples tested contain plastic particles. Research has only just begun into the effects of this on all of us, but there is a lot of growing concern that this could be a cause of diseases worldwide like cancer.

 SF Recruitment is a business that cares about the world around us and we want to make our employees proud to work here. We wanted to take responsibility for our plastic waste and found bamboo to be the perfect alternative in a number of ways.

As a material, bamboo is strong and flexible, while also being the fastest growing plant in the world, so we knew it has excellent renewable attributes compared to plastics, as well as paper. It grows back in a matter of weeks, and in the case of paper, therefore avoids using trees that take decades to grow.  It even removes more carbon dioxide from the air, and produces more oxygen than any other plant, it is self-sufficient and needs zero pesticides or fertilisers to grow. The more we researched, the more we realised its characteristics perfectly matched our branding and services, making it an easy decision to swap plastics for bamboo.


What changes have been made? What items have been replaced?

SF Recruitment’s rebrand and adoption of bamboo has led to us ditching plastic corporate gifts althogether. From paper brochures and stationary, to coffee cups, wine boxes and wireless charging desk tidies, we have developed a range of completely biodegradable and renewable products.

We have also incorporated a brand pledge, which all 120 of our staff have signed. We have pledged to end the use of single-use plastics in the office, including water bottles, plastic cutlery and name badges. We have supplied our staff with bamboo refillable drinking bottles, replaced our bin liners with compostable ones and have asked our suppliers to avoid sending anything in bubble wrap. Even our business cards are supplied in reusable rubber bands, instead of plastic boxes!

Finally, we talk to hundreds of clients every week.  So spreading this message we hope has made more and more businesses think about how they consume and the waste that they create.


Is enough being done to eradicate single use plastic? Can we do more as consumers in our personal choices?

There is more that can be done to eradicate plastic use, and we are all accountable to make changes to our daily lives. For businesses, auditing current plastic use can help scale up the potential issue, allowing a plan to be actioned to support reducing the reliance on the material. This can be asking for the right packaging before ordering, instructing cleaners to reduce the number of bin bags in the office, or simply asking suppliers to not send packages in bubble wrap. It is achievable, but requires commitment from business leaders. Every time I tell a factory in the Far East or printer in the Midlands that we don’t accept bubble wrap, I see it as a step forward. The more of us that feedback in this way, the more those hooked on plastic use will realise that it’s not an acceptable material choice and alternatives must be sought.

As a consumer, we often don’t realise how much plastic we consume. You almost miss the fact that you’re using plastic. So it takes a real conscious effort to reduce plastic use. Having this understanding will help consumers make the first steps to change. As well as recycling, simple steps can be made to reduce plastic waste. Whether it’s not accepting plastic coat hangers when purchasing clothes, or refusing plastic cutlery, consumers can take simple measures to reduce their plastic consumption.


Why should other businesses consider eradicating plastic too, when plastic options are cheaper? 

Many people have the feeling that plastic options are cheaper but we have found that is not always the case. For example, shredded paper is much cheaper than bubble wrap, while also being more environmentally-friendly.

Making business changes will not only position a business as forward-thinking, but it will also inspire employees and customers to think about how they use plastic and how much they consume. By leading the conversation, we hope to drive more people to adopt sustainable and environmental materials, ultimately making them more cost-effective and affordable for businesses.

Fiona Frudd
Fiona Frudd
Head of Marketing