Professional Pest Controller Magazine Issue 103

04 October 2019

Plastic waste: is it time to think outside the box?


In this guest blog Sean TaylorPestforce Managing Director and owner, asks how pest management professionals can work smarter and greener, to help tackle climate change and cut waste.

What should we be doing with all these recovered bait boxes? Return, recycle or reuse?

I was shocked this week when one of our Pestforce technicians came back from setting up a new pest control contract for a regional retailer.

The pictures demonstrates the way that many people in the industry have been treating rodent "bait" boxes as disposable assets.

These boxes - generally made of plastic - are used on properties all over the country, as part of the delivery of pest control services.

(And just for the uninitiated, these boxes do not always contain toxic products. That is a whole different debate but professional pest controllers will look to use non-toxic control measures where possible.)

In total we removed over 20 boxes that had been left at the site by at least the previous 2 contractors.

Simply seeing this picture arrive back into the Pestforce head office has got us thinking. Surely this situation can be avoided?

Clearly we are as guilty as most, as we were keen to make a good impression with our new customer by installing NEW boxes, without thinking of using what was in place. But at least we safely removed all this "old" equipment from site - more than can be said for the previous contractors.

Part of the problem is that these boxes are not overly expensive, which makes them economically and commercially "disposable". Yet they are highly durable and can last years if looked after properly.

Another aspect is that marketing teams have not missed an opportunity, so now every rodent box becomes an advertising board embossed with the company logo. After all, not many companies want to support free advertising for a competitor by leaving a branded box.

Now, just when the world has finally woken up to the issue of plastics, and their impact on the environment and wildlife, the picture shows that our industry really need to start thinking how contracts are managed and how we - the service providers - need to come together to help our planet.

I am not a technician so I may not be the best person to comment, however on the few occasions that I have been out on the ground with our teams this is not an unusual sight!

I am sure that some 'outside of the box' thinking will find a solution.

So what is the answer?

  • Should we stop embossing permanent logos on boxes, so that they are more transferable when there is a change in service provider?
  • Is it acceptable to use the old contractors' boxes?
  • Should outgoing service providers have a corporate responsibility to collect all pest control equipment when the contract is lost?

As always these things are not always as simple as they sound, but there is huge room for improvement and we will be talking to the British Pest Control Association to see if the industry can be a bit smarter and greener.

We can all do something to help reduce waste and re-using is just one element that will help cut waste.

Must dash: got some more boxes to count...


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