BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 31 July '18

Canary Wharf Group set to become the world’s first plastic-free commercial centre as it joins forces with Surfers Against Sewage

Canary Wharf Group has committed to becoming a Plastic Free Community as the next step in its 12-month #BreakingThePlasticHabit campaign, making it the first commercial centre to take part in the Surfers Against Sewage-led initiative.

A world first

The new initiative follows on from a plastics panel debate that took place as part of Canary Wharf Group’s World Environment Day activities in June.

The debate highlighted the need to use education, simplification and collaboration to break down barriers faced by businesses in the elimination of single-use plastics.

In recognition of the need to collaborate to achieve progress, Canary Wharf Group has joined forces with Surfers Against Sewage’s Plastic Free Community initiative, designed to unite and empower individuals, businesses, local government and the wider community to reduce their collective plastic footprint.

Stopping plastic pollution at source

Founded in May 1990, Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) was established to tackle the single issue of raw sewage being discharged untreated into UK bathing waters.

SAS has now built the largest network of community beach clean volunteers in Europe. In 2017 SAS organised 1,393 beach cleans; with the help of 34,779 volunteers, it removed nearly 100 tonnes of plastic pollution from the UK’s beaches.

SAS has already worked with 40,500 volunteers and will engage in excess of 75,000 individuals in 2018, doubling the number they worked with in 2017.

2017 saw SAS launch the pilot Plastic Free Communities Campaign. The charity is now working with communities to not only remove plastic pollution through beach cleans but to stop single-use plastic pollution at source. The pilot was a huge success and now over 330 communities are working towards the accreditation.

The project recently won the prestigious Charity Awards – Environment & Conservation category. 2017 also saw SAS launch Plastic Free Schools, a framework for schools to engage their students in making their schools plastic free. SAS had an original target of 50 schools to engage and were overwhelmed when 217 schools participated.

‘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.

‘The potential to inspire solutions-focused collaboration, innovation and partnership is enormous. We’d like to see other global financial centres take similar action on single-use plastics in the interest of healthy and happy communities everywhere. 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.’

HUGO TAGHOLM
Chief executive, Surfers Against Sewage

Breaking the plastic habit

Canary Wharf, which stretches across 16.5million sq. ft of London real estate, intends to prove that urban communities play an important role in eliminating avoidable single-use plastics and reducing the harm plastics do to our rivers and oceans.

As part of the project, Canary Wharf Group has committed to achieving targets across five key areas: governance, local business support, community engagement, community events and the formation of a steering group to take the work forward.

Pledges include helping local businesses and retailers to remove at least three items of single-use plastic, eliminating them completely or replacing them with sustainable alternatives, and hosting community events that create opportunities for people to engage with the issue.

‘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.’

STEVE GREIG
Co-managing director, Canary Wharf Management

Earlier this year Canary Wharf Group also launched the UK’s first Reverse Vending Machine allowing the thousands of visitors to recycle their single-use plastic bottles and cans in a simple, easy and efficient way.