Canary Wharf Group has become the world’s first Commercial Centre to be awarded Plastic Free Communities Approved status by Surfers Against Sewage. The group has been working across all levels to start reducing the impact of single-use avoidable plastic as part of its #BreakingThePlasticHabit campaign, demonstrating global business leadership and a commitment to protecting our oceans.
Canary Wharf stretches across 16.5million sq. ft. of London real estate and became the first Commercial Centre to sign up to Plastic Free Communities in June 2018. In joining this nationwide movement Canary Wharf Group sent a strong message that urban and business communities play a vital role in tackling avoidable, single-use plastic and reducing the harm it does to our rivers and oceans.
Fast forward to June 2019 and not only has the district become the world’s first Commercial Centre to achieve Plastic Free Communities Approved status, it is also the first of dozens of communities in London who are now working on the SAS Community Toolkit, to achieve the accolade.
37 businesses within the centre have eliminated at least three single-use plastic items, and regular workshops help them and others identify further steps they can take. Refill and re-use schemes have been introduced including the UK’s first Reverse Vending Machine for bottles and cans, and the ‘Helpful’ mobile phone app which rewards consumers every time they re-use a bottle, coffee cup, bag or food container/cutlery. Dedicated coffee cup bins have increased recycling, water refill points are available and a plastic-free food court is now on-site. A Seabin has even been installed, to highlight the impact of throwaway plastic on the River Thames, and ultimately the ocean.
This is how it looks in numbers:
- Over 2 million items of avoidable single-use plastic have been eliminated
- Over 4 million coffee cups have been recycled. If you stand these cups side by side they would stretch from London to Durham
- Removal of over 1 million plastic straws with 83 retailers on the Estate removing plastic straws entirely
- Over 100,000 water bottles have been reused across the seven water refill stations
- Over 19,000 bottles recycled using the Return Vending machine
- The new Sea Bin collects 30kg of plastic a month from the waterways at Canary Wharf
Raising awareness has been an important part of the Group’s work and as well as regular consumer events, there have been a host of business briefings involving some of the world’s leading companies. Community links have been forged with local schools and nurseries and the Group is aiming to support community cleans and local Surfers Against Sewage reps, as it works to build on its journey to reduce single-use plastic.
Canary Wharf is one of the largest of the UK wide communities to achieve the Plastic Free Communities Approved status. The Group says it is now looking forward to working with other organisations at Canary Wharf to build on this initial groundwork and to work towards fully freeing its community from single-use plastics.
Hugo Tagholm, CEO of Surfers Against Sewage, said: “I’m delighted that Canary Wharf has achieved our Plastic Free Communities status, working to eliminate avoidable single-use plastics. This is the world’s first commercial centre to achieve our status, demonstrating their leadership, commitment and ongoing journey to reduce the use of avoidable single-use plastics across the estate. London is an ocean city, with the tidal Thames running through its heart, and Surfers Against Sewage is delighted to see ocean activism taking hold within such a globally renowned business centre overlooking this iconic river. Tackling plastic pollution is vital from source to sea, and business leadership will help us all reinvent our relationship with plastic.”
Sir George Iacobescu, Chairman and Chief Executive, Canary Wharf Group, said: “Canary Wharf’s Breaking The Plastic Habit programme is part of our long term commitment to deliver a future that’s truly sustainable at Canary Wharf. Our programme is designed to act as a blueprint for behavioural change and prompt wider action towards a single-use plastic-free future. It is our hope that this forms part of Canary Wharf’s legacy for a sustainable city in which we transform our community and spark a wider, long-term change for the better; not just for now but for future generations.”
There are now 30 registered Plastic Free Communities in London, joining another 500+ across the UK who are working to free where they live from single-use plastic. Community leads work to the same five-point toolkit as Canary Wharf and an array of refill and reuse projects are emerging from this grassroots movement. Communities aren’t aiming to eliminate all plastic from their lives … they work to tackle our addiction to throwaway plastic and help change the system that produces it, one plastic bottle at a time.