Recruiting for a Greener Future: Sustainability in the Plastics Industry

Imagine a world where sustainability and business go hand in hand, where taking care of our planet also means attracting top-tier talent. It may sound like an ideal scenario. But, it’s closer to reality than you might think, especially in the plastics industry, which has direct environmental connection. 

This focus on sustainability isn’t just doing good for the planet, it’s also changing how companies recruit and the kind of talent they attract. Nielsen’s research has shown that a solid 66% of consumers are ready to pay more for sustainable goods. This tells us that sustainability isn’t just a passing trend, but a meaningful business approach that directly influences real-world outcomes.

In this blog, we’re going to take a closer look at how recruitment in the plastics industry is transforming because of the push for more sustainable practices. We’ll discuss why it’s vital for businesses to enhance their sustainability efforts to attract top talent and stay competitive.


The Growing Focus on Sustainability 

In our modern era, public awareness about sustainability has grown significantly, and its influence is echoing strongly in the professional community. For instance, Cone Communications’ survey reveals that a significant 76% of millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when choosing their place of work. It’s clear: for the workforce of today and tomorrow, the paycheck is not the only thing that matters. With this, let’s define what sustainability is:

  • Sustainability is all about protecting what we have now for the future. It’s making sure that our resources don’t run out, that our environment and society are fair, and that economic growth is continuous. We do this by using resources more efficiently, by creating less waste and carbon footprint, and by ensuring everyone benefits from progress.

And therefore, this shift in point of view signals an important message to employers in the plastics industry: sustainability counts. It’s not just about modifying environmental impact but aligning with the values of a new, eco-conscious workforce. Professionals today are increasingly drawn to employers who mirror their own dedication to sustainable practices.

Moreover, a recent IBM study highlights that nearly 60% of consumers are willing to change their shopping habits to reduce environmental impact. This strengthens the idea that sustainability is a crucial factor shaping a company’s image and swaying consumer choices. Companies in the plastics industry that embrace sustainability can attract not only the best talent but also a growing sector of environmentally conscientious buyers.

As sustainability becomes more prominent in the public eye, it opens up new opportunities for innovation within the plastics industry. Companies who successfully integrate sustainability into their operations often lead the way with fresh ideas, cutting-edge technologies, and a vision for the future. These forward-thinking companies have the potential to stand out in an overcrowded market, appealing to both customers and job seekers looking for dynamic, modern employers.


Sustainability’s Challenges on Recruitment

Adopting sustainable practices is an impactful way for companies in the plastics industry to stand out among competitors, attract top talent, and appeal to environmentally-conscious customers. However, this transition isn’t without its challenges. Here are some major issues that companies may face in supporting sustainability with their recruitment strategies:

Finding qualified candidates with a passion for sustainability: Not all jobseekers prioritize sustainability. Companies might struggle to find candidates who not only have the required technical skills but also a genuine interest in sustainable practices. For example, a company may need an engineer who can innovate sustainable production techniques, but such candidates might be few and far between.

Upgrading systems and processes: Moving towards sustainable operations often needs significant investment in new technologies or retraining staff. It can prove challenging to recruit for roles that didn’t exist before the shift to sustainability, such as a Sustainability Officer or Renewable Energy Specialist.

Overcoming resistance to change: Change can often meet with opposition. Employees comfortable with the existing processes might resist the shift towards more sustainable practices, affecting morale and productivity. Recruiting managers might face difficulties in adding new hires who are advocates of sustainability into such an environment.

Balancing cost and benefit: Implementing sustainable practices often involves upfront costs, and the return on investment may not be immediate. For example, installing energy-efficient machinery or setting up recycling processes can be expensive, and the financial impact might influence the recruitment budget.

Communicating the company’s commitment to sustainability: Potential employees need to understand and believe in a company’s commitment to sustainability. Companies might struggle with transparently communicating their sustainability goals and how they weave into the overall corporate strategy during the recruitment process.

Maintaining a competitive edge: While sustainability attracts some candidates, others might prioritize aspects like salary, growth opportunities, or job security. Companies need to strike a balance in their recruitment strategy to ensure they remain competitive on all fronts while emphasizing their commitment to sustainable practices.

Sustainability in recruitment presents unique challenges for companies in the plastics industry. However, facing these challenges head-on isn’t just crucial to attract the right talent; it’s also a stepping stone towards a more sustainable future for the company and the industry as a whole. By combining recruitment strategies with sustainable practices, companies can make a stellar impact that resonates with employees, customers, and the wider community.


10 Tactics for Applying Sustainable Practices

While the challenges of incorporating sustainability into recruitment can be overwhelming, organizations in the plastics industry can adopt various strategies to overcome these hurdles. Let’s consider these 10 effective strategies:

  1. Promote sustainable practices

Make sustainability a key part of your employer brand. Highlight your commitment to sustainability in job descriptions, on your website, and in interviews. For example, you might mention if your company has set specific environmental goals or has won awards for its sustainable activities.

  1. Invest in training

Equip your workforce with the knowledge and skills they need to implement sustainable practices. This could include training on energy efficiency, waste reduction, or the use of environmentally friendly materials. Such initiatives not only boost sustainability but also raise employees’ growth and development.

  1. Utilize technology

Technology can greatly enhance your company’s sustainability efforts. For instance, investing in energy-efficient machinery or software that minimizes paper usage can reduce your environmental footprint and attract tech-savvy candidates who value innovation and efficiency.

  1. Partner with educational institution

Collaborate with local colleges and universities to promote sustainability and attract promising graduates. You might sponsor a sustainability-related research project or offer internships to students interested in the field.

  1. Implement remote work policies

Remote work can reduce carbon emissions associated with commuting and decrease the energy consumption of office buildings. A Global Workplace Analytics survey suggests that people could save over $4,000 per year by working remotely half the time, which is also attractive for potential candidates.

  1. Create a culture of sustainability

Promote a workplace culture that emphasizes and rewards sustainable behavior. This could involve regular communication about the importance of sustainability, setting up a ‘green team’, or recognizing employees who take the initiative in encouraging sustainable practices.

  1. Develop sustainable products or services

If applicable, explore opportunities for developing sustainable products, services, or solutions. This not only helps the environment but can also give you a competitive edge in the market and attract candidates who wish to contribute to such initiatives.

  1. Consider sustainable suppliers

Choose to work with suppliers who share your commitment to sustainability. This could involve sourcing raw materials responsibly or choosing suppliers who have efficient and green operations.

  1. Implement waste reduction strategies

Strategies like recycling, composting, or reducing packaging can significantly decrease your company’s waste output. Not only is this good for the environment, but it can also lead to cost savings.

  1. Measure and report on sustainability

Regularly measure your sustainability efforts and share the results with employees and potential candidates. This transparency demonstrates your commitment to sustainability and helps keep everyone in your organization accountable.

Each of these strategies can help companies in the plastics industry make their operations more sustainable and with the help of the right tools, they can enhance their attractiveness to jobseekers who prioritize sustainability.


Tools for Sustainability in the Plastic Recruitment

As sustainability becomes a greater priority in recruitment, there are various tools that companies in the plastics industry can employ to aid in their efforts. Let’s take a closer look at several aids:

Eco-Friendly Job Boards

Numerous job boards focus on posting opportunities from companies committed to sustainability. Posting on these platforms can help companies reach jobseekers passionate about environmental stewardship.

Sustainability Assessment Tools

Several tools can help companies assess their sustainability efforts, which can be beneficial for shaping recruitment strategies. For instance, the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) provides a range of tools for assessing sustainability performance across different industries.

Green HRM Software

Many HR software solutions now include features designed to reduce environmental impact, such as removing paper-based processes or integrating virtual meeting tools. This can help support sustainable recruitment practices.

Social Media Platforms

Social media can be a powerful tool for showcasing a company’s commitment to sustainability. Regularly sharing updates about sustainability initiatives can help attract eco-conscious jobseekers.

Online Training Platforms

There’s a plethora of digital platforms offering training on sustainability-related topics. These can be used to upskill current employees or to offer as a benefit to potential employees, highlighting a company’s commitment to sustainable practices.

These tools, among others, offer practical ways to support and highlight a company’s commitment to sustainability in the recruitment process.


Benefits of Embracing Sustainability

Adding sustainable practices into your recruitment strategy and company culture can offer a wealth of benefits, from attracting high-quality talent to improving your company’s bottom line. These are key advantages of making sustainability an essential part of your business strategy:

Attracting top talent: A commitment to sustainability can significantly enhance your company’s appeal to today’s job hunters. As sustainability draws more attention, professionals who value the environment actively seek employers with green initiatives. By embracing sustainability, your company can attract this ambitious, environmentally-conscious talent pool.

Boosting employee morale and productivity: Employees tend to have higher morale and productivity when they feel that their work has a positive impact beyond profit. Knowing they are contributing to sustainability efforts can give employees a greater sense of purpose and engagement in their work.

Improving company reputation: Embracing sustainability can enhance your corporate image, making your company more attractive not only to potential employees but also to customers, investors, and business partners. Businesses that prioritize sustainability are often seen as forward-thinking and responsible.

Gaining a competitive edge: As sustainability becomes increasingly important to consumers, companies that can demonstrate a genuine commitment to sustainability can set themselves apart from their competitors. This can lead to increased market share and profitability.

Reducing costs: Sustainable practices often lead to cost savings in the long run. For instance, energy-efficient equipment can reduce utility bills, while waste reduction strategies can lower disposal costs.

Avoiding risk: Prioritizing sustainability helps you stay ahead of environmental regulations, which can prevent legal issues and financial penalties. Also, companies that are proactive in their sustainability efforts are less likely to face public scrutiny or damage to their reputation from environmental mishaps.

By making sustainability a key part of your recruitment and operational strategy, your company can enjoy these benefits and more, creating a win-win situation for the environment, your employees, and your bottom line. 


As we sail across the 21st century, sustainability continues to influence how we conduct business, and the plastics industry is no exception. It’s no longer just about reducing our carbon footprint; it’s about attracting top talent, fostering innovation, and future-proofing our businesses. By intertwining sustainable practices into their recruitment procedures, plastics industry companies can truly stand out, not just as industry leaders, but as part of the solution to the environmental challenges we face.

Ready to take the jump and make sustainability a core part of your recruitment tactics? At Plastic Executive Recruiters, we make it our mission to help businesses in the plastics industry steer the world of sustainable recruitment. Let’s transform your business and build a greener future together. Get in touch with us today!

Ed Keil

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