Analysis: Glass Half Full – Take a little time to unwind

Our monthly round-up of good news takes in an initiative to improve mental health in the workplace and an innovation in sustainable beer bottles. Nick Hughes reports

Are over-stressed employees hiding in plain sight in your office or kitchen?

Workplace mental health is an issue that is rarely discussed but one that impacts workers in every profession.

Aramark is looking to bring the subject out into the open with a new initiative that has seen thousands of employees and members of the public taking time out of their working day to talk to colleagues and reconnect.

The caterer and facilities manager has conducted research that shows nearly half (49%) of working adults surveyed regularly feel stressed at work, with more women experiencing stress than men. Only 51%, meanwhile, feel comfortable discussing their mental health or the fact that they are feeling stressed at work with their employer or line manager

The research was commissioned as part of Aramark’s annual Take15 campaign, which aims to promote good mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. Throughout October, Aramark’s 16,000 employees across its 464 sites in the UK, as well as thousands of people from its client sites, are being encouraged to take 15 minutes out of their working day away from phone calls, computers and smartphones to unwind, talk to their colleagues and reconnect.

Lawrence Shirazian, Aramark’s managing director for food services & defence services UK, says the campaign aims to address the current stigma attached to talking about and seeking help for stress and mental health issues: “We all need to mind our mental health by taking regular breaks at work and our Take15 campaign is growing every year as more and more employers understand the importance of supporting their employees’ physical and mental wellbeing.”

The research also found that 20% of working adults do not regularly take a break during the working day, something evidence suggests employers should be insisting on. Employees that take breaks at work are shown to have more energy and are able to focus and problem solve, creating a strong incentive for businesses to look after the wellbeing of their employees.

Glass Half Full is always looking for innovations that make our tipple more sustainable and scientists working with Carlsberg believe they may have come up with the answer.

Earlier this month the Danish brewer previewed its new Green Fibre Bottle, which is said to be 100% bio-based and fully recyclable.

The bottle is very much a work-in-progress with Carlsberg having unveiled two prototypes, both of which are made from sustainably sourced wood fibres and have an inner barrier to allow the bottles to hold beer. One prototype uses a thin, recycled PET polymer film barrier, and the other a 100% bio-based PEF polymer film barrier.

Carlsberg’s ultimate goal is to create a 100% bio-based bottle without polymers – a concept that fellow drinks’ brands have rallied around. The Coca-Cola Company and The Absolut Company are among several other drinks’ majors forming a paper bottle community to advance the technology.

Such collaboration is admirable but the brands in question should prepare themselves for scrutiny whenever the product finally makes it to market. Firstly, it’s replacing a single-use product with another single-use product in a sector that is ripe for development of reuse concepts.

Researchers will also be poring over the details of the production methods to understand whether the impact is really less than glass, for instance, which is resource-intensive to produce but recyclable many times over.

Finally, although the designs are said to be fully recyclable, with the inner barriers able to be easily separated from the wood fibre component, will the current waste infrastructure support the bottle’s recycling in practice? Drinkers wishing to sup with a clear conscience will certainly hope so.

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