Canary Wharf Group commits to becoming world’s first plastic-free commercial centre

Canary Wharf Group (CWG) has pledged to become a plastic-free community across its 16.5 million sq. ft London real estate, in a bid to help businesses and the wider community reduce the amount of single-use plastics in circulation.

CWG has joined the Surfers Against Sewage Plastic Free Community initiative, which is designed to help communities and businesses to eliminate unnecessary uses of plastics. Surfers Against Sewage is aiming to create 125 plastic-free communities by 2020 and already more than 330 pledges have been made to the commitment.

As part of the project, CWG has committed to targets across five areas of governance, local business support, community engagement, community events and the creation of a steering panel to accelerate progress in eliminating single-use plastics. CWG will work with retailers on its estate to remove at least three single-use plastics products, replace them with sustainable variants or, in some cases, eliminate all uses of single-use plastics.

CWG’s co-managing director, Steve Greig, said: “Going for Plastic Free Community accreditation with Surfers Against Sewage is our next step in the #BreakingThePlasticHabit campaign, our framework to continue this long-term strategy, something we truly hope will become a part of Canary Wharf’s legacy. It is our dream that this project will change our incredible community, and its environment, in a credible and positive way.”

Breaking the habit

The company’s Breaking the Plastic Habit campaign is a year-long scheme to pilot new technologies, innovations and behavioural change approaches that could help to remove the need for single-use plastics. With a working population of around 1,200 people across 37 office buildings and more than 300 shops, cafés, bars and restaurants, CWG is positioning itself as a ‘micro-city’ to scale-up these solutions which could lead to large-scale transformations in this critical area for the circular economy.

CWG recently hosted a panel debate, featuring sustainability and packaging experts from the likes of Sky, Waitrose and Iceland, the latter of which vowed to remove plastic packaging from its own brand products by 2023. Industry experts discussed the importance of acting on single-use plastics but noted that a sudden step-change in awareness of the issue shouldn’t lead to unintended consequences. edie has provided an in-depth summary of the panel.

Earlier this year, CWG also launched the UK’s first reverse vending machines that enable visitors to recycle single-use plastic bottles. Since then, a host of retailers, festivals and UK attractions have introduced the machines. CWG has also completed a plastic audit across its estate.

Surfers Against Sewage’s chief executive Hugo Tagholm said: “We are delighted to be supporting Canary Wharf Group through the process of gaining Plastic Free Community accreditation. This is fantastic news for London, the UK and the rest of the world. It’s a world first and sets a very high standard.”

“Given the scale of threats to our coasts and marine habitats, there could not be a more important time to take action on plastic pollution. We congratulate Canary Wharf Group and call on other London boroughs and districts to take similar action on avoidable single-use plastics, with the aim of stopping plastic pollution.”

Matt Mace

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