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Plastic Bins: A Unique Measure Of Success

Jun 5, 2008
How do you measure success in business? The answers to that question are quite probably endless. Of course, the answer will vary from sector to sector, but generally speaking it very much depends on how you define success. Even within one individual business, the ways in which you define and measure success will change and evolve over time. A friend of mine who runs a large PR firm has even got to the point where one of the ways in which he measures success is by checking his plastic bins.

Rifling through the waste in plastic bins may seem like a slightly odd - if not completely mad - way of measuring success, but I can assure that my friend has still got all his marbles. He started the PR company 10 years ago and back then his goals and aspirations were based around much more traditional measures, such as increasing turnover and profit. As time went on and the business became more successful he stopped worrying so much about the bottom line and figured out that if he took care of the bigger picture - i.e. ensuring both the quality and the quantity of the clients - the rest would take care of itself.

A decade on and business is booming more and more. These days it is both customer and client satisfaction that concern him most. In the last couple of years he had noticed that both his staff and his customers were talking more and more about ethical business practices, particularly ways of making businesses greener and more environmentally friendly. It was his decision to pursue this idea further that led to his obsession with plastic bins.

He set up a committee run by members of his staff. It was charged with coming up with ideas of making the business greener. The main problem that they identified was the amount of paper that was being wasted. Being a PR company, they attracted a huge amount of mail - press releases, copies of magazines and newspapers - on a daily basis. After gathering dust on various desks around the office, this would all eventually get thrown in the trash with the rest of the garbage.

So the committee came up with the idea of buying several large green plastic bins that would be placed in the corner of the office. They also purchased small plastic bins to go under each desk and labelled them with a recycle sticker, the idea being that people could put their waste paper in these plastic bins and then empty them in the main plastic bins once they were full. Taking the hassle out of recycling made people much more likely to take it seriously, and as a result the amount of garbage in the main waste bins has reduced massively in the last few months, while the green plastic bins are brimming with paper readied to be recycled.

The plastic bins initiative has undoubtedly been a success, not only by making the company greener but also by increasing employee satisfaction. It was an issue close to their hearts and the plastic bins have made many of them much happier in work.
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