UN Environment and ESCAP tackle waste at UN Bangkok

Tue, 13/06/17

Monday 5th June was World Environment Day, and what a day it was. This year’s celebrations saw a whole host of activities all around the world, including lots of announcements and events, including the launch of the new greening strategy for the UN complex in Bangkok.

In conjunction with the catering company Sodexo, UN ESCAP, and UN Environment have taken action to green the UN Building’s facilities and operations by reducing plastic waste, tackling food waste, introducing a green menu and reducing energy consumption.


Reducing plastic waste


One of the partnership’s priorities is to reduce the amount of plastic waste leaving the compound. To achieve this they are encouraging staff to: 

  • Bring their own mugs for hot drinks. As a reward, they will get their eighth drink for free! If staff forget their own mug, Sodexo is now using biodegradable paper cups.
  • Bring their own bottles to fill up at the water fountains, which ESCAP will be installing more of throughout the building. If staff forget their reusable bottles, all water bottles sold on the premises are now made from thinner plastic to reduce waste.
  • Use ceramic plates and metal cutlery when eating in the canteen
  • Bring tupperware for when they’re eating on the go instead of using take-away containers. For those days when staff forget containers, Sodexo now offers biodegradable food containers (which cost 5 baht each).

Reduce food waste


ESCAP and UN Environment have set a goal to reduce food waste from the UN Building in Bangkok’s canteens. And as a first step, they need to know how much they’re throwing away each day. With that in mind, Sodexo will now be tracking the amount of food wasted in their dining rooms. They’re also introducing a ‘shame board’ so that staff can track progress.

The quantities of post-consumer food waste in the first week came as a wake up call – between 40-90g of food is wasted per meal.  That might not seem a lot, but adds up to around 15% of the food that is served.  If you amplify that up the food supply chain where food is wasted along the way, it means that we are wasting a huge percentage of what has been taken from nature to feed us.  

In order to help the partnership achieve their goal, staff are being encouraged to:

  • Ask for smaller portions,
  • Share food with friends and colleagues, and
  • Bring reusable containers for any leftovers.

Introducing a more sustainable menu


Keeping with the theme of food, the caterer - Sodexo - has introduced a greener menu at the Bangkok office, which uses more sustainable produce, including certified seafood. Sustainability labeling has also been introduced, to help staff make more informed and sustainable choices at lunch.


Reducing energy consumption


Staff are also being reminded to switch off lights and computers before leaving the office. Leaving appliances on stand-by mode is still a great waste of electricity. Whilst there are solar cells at the UN’s Bangkok office that contribute to electricity supply, they want to ensure that all energy used is put to productive use.

For more tips on how to reduce your environmental footprint check out our ‘Get Involved’ pages to see how you can make a different, or watch ESCAP’s greening video below.


Categories: Energy, Staff Engagement, Waste