How TOMbag helped ISS Facility Services in the Netherlands make their reusable cup return stations completely zero waste.
Customer: ISS was founded in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1901, ISS Global is a leading facility services provider. The company’s core area of service includes technical, cleaning, food and workplace.
Industry: Facility management
Company size: 470,000+ employees
Location: The Netherlands
Use case: Return stations for reusable cups
Products: X-Large (80L) TOMbag Reusable Garbage Bag
After realising that single-use plastic garbage bags account for over 70% of all the disposable plastics used by the company, ISS Facility Services in the Netherlands created a strategy on how to dramatically diminish their reliance on single-use plastic bin liners - an important step helping the business to reach their net zero goals. A significant part of this strategy was a transition to reusable garbage bags for certain waste streams. Here’s how TOMbag helped in this innovative and sustainable switch.
From a sustainability point of view, a lot has happened in the past two years for ISS Facility Services. The company has committed to reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions within scope 1 and 2 by 2030 with full scope net zero greenhouse gas emissions to be achieved by 2040. ISS Facility Services in the Netherlands in particular aims to reduce its CO2 footprint between 15-50% by 2025. That means that the first effects of the ISS Facility Services in the Netherlands efforts need to become visible within 3 years from now - in all three scopes. Before proceeding with action steps, the company decided to first quantify their scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions as this allowed them to agree on the most effective measures.
...single-use plastic garbage bags account for over 70% of all the disposable plastics used by the company
As a part of this process ISS Facility Services in the Netherlands had to quantify its footprint for all single-use plastics they use. It is then that they discovered that the use of single-use plastic waste bags makes up a significant part of all the single-use plastics the company purchases annually. Danique Lindner, Sustainability Lead at ISS Facility Services in the Netherlands explains: “Every year we buy millions of single-use waste bags, which accounts for more than 70% of all the disposable plastics we buy. Reducing the use of our single-use waste bags became one of our main objectives in the battle against single-use plastics.”
As a member of the Dutch Plastic Pact, an initiative dedicated to the circular economy for plastics, ISS Facility Services in the Netherlands came with a solid plan on how to eliminate as many single-use waste bags as possible from across their operations. In their planning the ISS Facility Services team in the Netherlands team were guided by the 10 Rs of Circular Economy - a new model that is designed to replace original and simplified 3 Rs of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. In accordance with the 10-R model, the first step for the company was focusing on refusing as many disposable plastic waste bags as possible. “For example, we stopped using waste bags for small bathroom bins that are there for collection of used hand paper towels. This is a relatively clean stream that doesn’t contain much contamination from other materials. Removing plastic waste bags from this waste stream allows us to reduce our annual use of plastic disposables by almost 600kg,” - says Danique.
To reduce the number of single-use waste bags used, the team also instructed their cleaning staff to not replace single-use waste bags if it wasn’t really necessary.
“As one of the main principles of the circular economy is to reuse, the next step for us was to investigate reusable waste bags,” - continues Danique. “That’s how we found TOMbag. Some waste streams are suitable to have a reusable waste bag and for those we’re trying to upscale the use of TOMbag.”
ISS Facility Services in the Netherlands piloted TOMbag at PwC, one of its major accounts. “Towards the end of 2021 we started a pilot for reusable cup return stations at our client’s employee canteens. During this pilot the cups needed to be returned to designated return stations. We quickly realised that from an operational point of view it would be more convenient to put a bag inside the return stations. For the pilot where reuse and sharing are the main parameters, a reusable waste bag is simply a great addition!” - states Danique.
It is then that they discovered that the use of single-use plastic waste bags makes up a significant part of all the single-use plastics the company purchases annually.
During the pilot two TOMbags were used per each return station as one would be drying after cleaning and the other one would be in use. ISS Netherlands team shared that if using single-use waste bags, for each return station they would use anywhere in between 225 and 450 single-use plastic waste bags per year, each of which weighs around 75 grams. Switching to TOMbag reusable garbage bags helps them save somewhere in between 17kg and 33kg of single-use plastic for each return station per year.
Overall, TOMbag reusable bin liners were tested for 10 weeks and were evaluated based on several criteria - ease of use, hygiene and overall environmental impact.
The results from the pilot were successful. “Our cleaning staff ended up being real ambassadors of the concept. They found that TOMbags are easy to use and clean - you just need some water and after drying, they are ready to be reused. Also, they were quite satisfied with the design.”
Based on the results of the pilot ISS Facility Services in the Netherlands plans to upscale the use of TOMbags for reusable return stations at PwC offices in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. ISS Facility Services in the Netherlands also plans to roll out TOMbag reusable garbage bags for their “clean” streams in areas where they receive a lot of guests.
The ISS Facility Services in the Netherlands team is determined and optimistic when talking about achieving their net zero goals. Using innovative approaches similar to TOMbag reusable garbage bags helps their business to achieve their sustainability goals faster. “However, we’re not alone in this race against climate change - our partners, clients and suppliers must commit themselves to achieving the same goals,” - concludes Danique.