Climate Action

Canary Wharf is now the world’s first plastic free commercial centre

Canary Wharf, the Estate at the heart of London’s capital, has become the first commercial centre in the world to be awarded a ‘Plastic Free Community’ status one year after the launch of their plastic reduction scheme.

  • 06 June 2019
  • Poppy Bootman

Canary Wharf, the Estate at the heart of London’s capital, has become the first commercial centre in the world to be awarded a ‘Plastic Free Community’ status one year after the launch of their plastic reduction scheme.

In 2018, Canary Wharf Group (CWG) announced their ambition to become a Plastic Free Community, after the launch of their ‘Breaking the Plastic Habit’ plan to eliminate plastic waste in the Estate.

Plastic pollution is a threat to both the environment and human health. Not being able to biodegrade, plastic releases toxic substances into ecosystems and can enter human and animal tissue, disrupting hormonal mechanisms.

In the UK, over 5 million tonnes of plastic is consumed every year, only one-quarter of which is recycled, with the rest thrown out in landfills to pollute the environment and people.

Acknowledging their plastic footprint in 2018, Canary Wharf Group set out five areas curated by Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), a charity working with almost 400 communities to become active against plastic pollution. The key areas included working with business and retailers to remove single-use plastic, building relationships with local communities; and hosting events raising awareness of plastic pollution.

CWG have made it clear that the plan is not to eliminate all plastic on the Estate, but to remove single-use plastic items and promote environmentally-aware practises to stakeholders. The Group’s charity partner SAS have said “it’s about kicking our addiction to avoidable single-use plastic, and changing the system that produces it.”

Since the launch of the plan, CWG have been successful in creating London’s first plastic-free food court the Wharf Kitchen, implementing refillable water bottle systems and recycling 4.4 million coffee cups.

CWG have led the HELPFUL app to aid those in Canary Wharf in correct recycling of their waste and to avoid single-use plastic. Targeting plastics that have transferred into the waterways of Canary Wharf, the Group have installed a SeaBin; a tool ‘sucking’ plastic out of the water in the central dock.

Companies within CWG’s 37 office buildings and 300 shops, restaurants and bars have been asked to remove three single-use plastics each, and to adopt sustainable alternatives.

The ‘Plastic Free Community’ award CWG received this week praises the Group’s efforts to reduce the Estate’s plastic footprint and continuation of their sustainable policies. Surfers Against Sewage reported that CWG have eliminated over 2 million single-use plastic products since their commitment in 2018.

Martin Gettings, the Group Head of Sustainability for CWG has said their commitments against plastic are "not going to fade into the background" after the achievement of the 2018 goal, and anti-plastic practises are now "business as usual" for the Estate. "No one person or business is going to solve this alone, so it's important that we keep collaborating and keep pushing together to make the biggest difference possible”.

Read more about Canary Wharf’s journey to become plastic-free here.

Interested in learning more about the transition to zero carbon cities? Join us in London for the Climate Innovation Forum (CIF) 2019, in collaboration with London Climate Action Week, for the latest insights on zero carbon energy, transport, waste and buildings.