Sky to ban single-use plastics by 2020

Broadcasting company Sky has announced that all single-use plastics will be removed from its products, operations and supply chain by 2020 and will also invest £25m into an Ocean Rescue Innovation Fund to develop remedies to the amount of waste seeping into oceans.

Sky announced today (5 October) that all products will be made without single-use plastic by the end of 2017. The company will then work with its business partners and suppliers to help reduce use of plastic which is used once and then discarded by 2020.

Announced as part of a package of new measures at the Our Ocean conference in Malta, Sky’s chief executive Jeremy Darroch said: “We care about the environment and believe we have a responsibility to act on issues that matter to our customers.

“Ten years ago, we were the first media company to become carbon neutral and looking to the next 10 years, we want to use our voice and our reach to have a positive effect on ocean health.”

One area where this ban will apply is for plastic water bottles and cutlery. Each of Sky’s 31,000 employees have been given a reusable water bottle, which has cut plastic bottle consumption by more than 300,000 since January 2017. Catering outlets across all Sky sites no longer use plastic cutlery, instead using knives, forks and spoons made from corn starch.

For Sky products, batteries will no longer be wrapped in plastic, there will be no plastic caps and bags on plug covers or cables and leads. The Sky Soundbox, launching later this year, will be Sky’s first new product to have packaging completely free of single-use plastic. 

Sky will continue to use other forms of plastic, but has adopted a ‘Life Cycle Approach’ to the sustainability of products to account for design to end of life. 

The conference, hosted by the European Union (EU), is in its fourth iteration and Sky used the event to announce a £25m investment into an Ocean Rescue Innovation Fund. The fund will help start-ups and businesses develop technology that reduces reliance on single-use plastics and develops measures that stop materials ending up in the oceans.

Ocean Rescue

The latest commitment builds on Sky’s Ocean Rescue digital campaign, which has now been given a dedicated Sky channel. Originally launched in January 2017, the campaign featured a 45-minute documentary examining how plastic now accounts for 95% of the rubbish in our oceans.

The firm used its Sky News outlet to place a particular focus on important ocean plastic waste reports published by the likes of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and has been offering tips and advice for consumers to alleviate the issue through dedictaed Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Sky has since taken the Ocean Rescue campaign into the world of cricket. The broadcaster formed a partnership with the Kia Oval stadium to hand out around 20,000 refillable water bottles to fans during England’s match against South Africa in July.

Sky will partner with WWF to safeguard marine protected areas – which currently protects 1% of the sea from fishing or industrial use – around the UK, Ireland, Germany and Italy.

WWF UK’s chief executive Tanya Steele added: “Businesses, governments and individuals all have a role in reversing the shocking decline in the health of our oceans for our own wellbeing, as well as for future generations.

“I congratulate Sky on its bold ambitions to reduce stresses on our oceans, and look forward to supporting them in making a real difference to ocean health, for people and the planet.”

Matt Mace

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