How your intranet can get your staff innovating

By Fiona Stephenson

As a leading provider of digital technology with a commitment to sustainability, we wanted to know how Ricoh is making moves to empower its people and lower its environmental impact.

Sustainable practices within an organisation can be a daunting task. However, Ricoh has an innovative way to source solutions to its sustainability problems – a digital platform so that staff are able to share their ideas.

The thinkTWICE platform empowers staff to suggest ways to help the company improve. It doesn’t just cover sustainability. It also takes in customer satisfaction, efficiency, cost savings and more.

Ricoh’s sustainability manager Helen Mahoney says:

“With enriched collaboration options, all employees now have a role to play in innovation. The thinkTWICE platform provides more capabilities for discussing and sharing ideas. This way, everyone gets a chance to contribute and add their expertise around existing ideas. Now all employees have a role to play in innovation.”

From November 2009 to date, 8,448 ideas have been submitted and 4,563 ideas implemented. In creating an easy way for staff to voice their ideas, Ricoh has had some significant wins in sustainability.

Plastic bag use has been an issue for the company. Through the platform they’ve been successful in sourcing compostable alternatives. This has saved 1,500 single-use plastic bags per year. Previously, plastic bags were used to cover the floor during routine maintenance to prevent damage from spills. Ricoh is now having reusable drop sheets made from all natural fibre. These will replace an estimated 500 plastic bags per year.

Cleaning copier machine accumulates a lot of plastic cleaning solution bottles, which can lead to waste. These were catalogued as tools, meaning they were better accounted for, so they are now more often kept and re-filled. This has lowered the impact on the environment, and the cost.

Finally, machines used to be shrink wrapped during transit. Ricoh is now  trialling reusable machine covers and reusable pallet wraps to eliminate this plastic. If successful this could replace about 350 rolls of plastic wrap used per year. It could save $5,000, a year.

In enabling staff to discuss and share ideas, Ricoh has been able to reduce its use of single-use plastics, and has had some significant wins in sustainability.  There are many ways that single-use plastics can be reduced in daily operations, it’s time to see how your business can do the same.