World Environment Day 2019
3:30 PM15:30

World Environment Day 2019


To coincide with World Environment Day, Canary Wharf Group brought together an audience of peers, industry colleagues and the wider Canary Wharf community to reflect on success during 12 months of the Breaking The Plastic Habit programme. 

A year of collaboration and progress across the Estate, working towards a shared goal through the framework of marine charity Surfers Against Sewage’s Plastic Free Community scheme, all culminated in this event. At the event, it was with great pride that CEO of the charity Hugo Tagholm was able to announce that the Canary Wharf Estate had reached Plastic Free Communities Approved status, the world’s first commercial centre to do so. Presenting a framed certificate to Steve Greig, Co-Managing Director, Canary Wharf Management, Hugh Tagholm commended the Group, recognising the range of work carried out to reduce single-use plastic on the Estate.


Sharing some fantastic statistics, Canary Wharf Group showed the true scale of change at Canary Wharf thanks to the Breaking The Plastic Habit programme. [Read more]

Hugo also joined Dylan Bexley, Vice President of Morgan Stanley, Amanda Keetley, Founder of Less Plastic & Author of ‘Plastic Game Changer’, Luke Manning, Head of Sustainability at Refinitv and Martin Gettings, Group Head of Sustainability at Canary Wharf Group on an expert panel. Together, they discussed how they each have taken action on single use plastics in their industries, current concerns around the environment, how to tackle the climate crisis and the impact we can each make as individuals. 


One of the points that the panel explicitly stressed was that awareness is rapidly growing and that change has never been more possible. However, they did accept that we face a big challenge in the need for convenience,  and that from inside a business, change can really start happening when you get the boss on board and start sharing your own learnings where you can.

In summary, they concluded the path to a plastic free future would be forged using education, collaboration and simplification. On the Estate, this future is already being worked towards by the 40 Trailblazers signed up to collaborate as part of the programme, including panel members Morgan Stanley and Refinitiv. 


The highlight of the event was the Youth Takeover, a panel of school children from local primaries invited to quiz the panel. These young Eco-Ambassadors put their questions to the experts and challenged them on how they are taking action. Although questions had been taken throughout the event, these were by far the hardest hitting! Cutting right to the heart of the matter, the children asked questions around sustainability messaging in schools and on curriculums, questioned the focus on cotton buds as the next big nationwide sustainability project and what they can do to fight throwaway plastic culture.

The overarching take-away of the event was the positive message of collaboration and of opportunity, with the event ending on a call to arms; as Martin Gettings said, “every person can influence 100 people”. It was clear that although we don’t have all the answers when it comes to sustainability, there is no reason not to try. And Canary Wharf Group is going to continue to fight. As with World Environment Day 2018, 2019 saw Canary Wharf take to the malls to find out the most important issue to the people of Canary Wharf. 2019-2020 will see Canary Wharf Group tackle either Responsible Purchasing, Wellbeing, Beyond Zero Waste or Climate Change. It’s been put to the vote and all will be revealed soon.

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Breakfast Briefing April 2019
8:30 AM08:30

Breakfast Briefing April 2019


Canary Wharf Group Hosts Sky Ocean Rescue, Farmstand and 10 Year Old Sustainability Pioneer at Breakfast Briefing

On the morning of the 25th April, Canary Wharf Group held the second of a series of sustainability Breakfast Briefings. Bringing together representatives from Canary Wharf, alongside sustainability peers Fiona Ball, Sky Ocean Rescue, founder of Farmstand, Steven Novick and 10-year-old plastic pioneer Oskar, the conversation covered accountability, the importance of collaboration and the accessibility of being greener, not just on an individual level, but as businesses too. 


Starting the event was Managing Director and Group Company Secretary of Canary Wharf Group, John Garwood, who not only spoke of the impacts of the Breaking The Plastic Habit campaign, but reflected on the fact that although results are incredibly impressive in terms of their plastic waste removal and recycling, the time has come to look beyond the personal experience and look outwards to wider change. 

Mentioning Netflix documentary, Our Planet, John Garwood recognised that wider awareness of the need for sustainability standards to rise is gaining more traction than ever, with Netflix alone reaching 1 billion people in 190 countries. With this, and much media talk around the subject of climate change, the UK has woken up to what they can do to contribute to stopping its advancement. The answers and solutions, John said, won’t be found by governments, but by cities, especially micro cities like Canary Wharf. Cities may only be 2% of the overall land mass of the planet, but they account for 2/3 of emissions and 70% of the world’s energy use. 

Happily, John shared that the Estate is on course to become the world’s first Plastic Free Commercial Centre in June, in partnership with Surfers Against Sewage. John also announced the news that Morgan Stanley and Refinitiv have signed up to be the first Flagship Partners of the campaign, pledging to analyse plastic use across their companies and positively affect change – starting by eliminating three pieces of single-use plastic. These Flagship Partners are joined by 40 Trailblazers, these are tenants who have already committed and have started removing single-use plastics from their outlets. 


With the scene set, it was perfect timing for Martin Gettings, Group Head of Sustainability for Canary Wharf Group, to discuss the progress they have made as part of their Breaking The Plastic Habit campaign. Key to Martin’s speech was participation, and the incredibly important role this plays in affecting real change. Part of this was highlighting examples like panel member Oskar, but also Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist who this week has become the UK’s favourite sustainability role model. 

Martin Gettings had good news to share with the room, explaining the many milestones Canary Wharf have reached since the campaign began last June. These included

  • 1 million pieces of single-use plastic removed

  • Over 4 million single-use plastic items reused or recycled

  • 4.2 million single-use coffee cups recycled

  • Over 80 retailers supporting the #3Weeks campaign on the Estate

  • Estimated 1.2 million single-use plastic straws recycled

  • 84,000 bottles refilled at the free water refill stations through the retail malls

  • 18,000 bottles recycled by the on-site Deposit Return Vending machine – which is the first of its kind in the UK

One of the most successful elements of the Breaking The Plastic Habit campaign has been the introduction of the geo-tagged HELPFUL app, the world’s first plastic recycling and rewarding app. HELPFUL simplifies and incentivises reuse and recycling for the 150,000 people who visit and work on the Estate each day. Since its introduction in January, the HELPFUL app statistics include: 


  • 2, 500 items reused

  • 2,800 items recycled

  • 5,300 reward coins issued

After this good news, Fiona Ball from Sky Ocean Rescue shared with the room the sobering statistic that a truckload of plastic waste is dumped into the world’s oceans every minute – 8 million tonnes a year. However, awareness of sustainability is at an all time high of 40 million here in the UK. Sky Ocean Rescue’s #PassOnPlastic campaign has pledged to be single-use plastic free by 2020, and they are well on their way – achieving a single-use plastic free front of house in 2018. 


Steven Novick from Farmstand also highlighted the continued importance of the individual effort, sharing with us easy tips on how to reduce our own environmental impact, including carrying our own cutlery to ensure we don’t use unnecessary plastic utensils. Steven Novick also shared that 60% of their waste is compostable, with the remaining 40% recyclable. Farmstand have never had any waste to landfill – a shining example of what is possible when you put sustainability at the core of your business. 

All parties present at the Briefing agreed that for them, sustainability is not a CSR campaign, it is truly embedded within the business. They surmised that we are at a tipping point and that collaboration was crucial for continued effective action. This was particularly evident in Sky Ocean Rescue’s partnerships with WWF, National Geographic, the Premier League and AEG backstage at the O2. 

The morning showed that engagement, inspiration and accessibility need to be at the core of the sustainability movement, not just for Canary Wharf Group, but for everyone, if we hope to succeed in reversing some of the existing damage done to our planet. 


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Breakfast Briefing January 2019
8:00 AM08:00

Breakfast Briefing January 2019


Managing Director and Group Company Secretary of Canary Wharf Group, John Garwood was joined by Hugo Tagholm of Surfers Against Sewage for the latest Breaking The Plastic Habit Breakfast Briefing. 

Our first Breakfast Briefing in January saw us announce the launch of a new reward app that will not only make it easier for individuals to break their plastic habit at Canary Wharf but will incentivise reuse and recycling behaviours.

The app, developed by London start-up, HELPFUL, has been designed to encourage people to live a plastic-free life. Users collect points each time they use their reusable cup, bottle, cutlery, straws and bags at Canary Wharf which can be redeemed and spent in partner stores.

We revealed an exclusive first look at the app, the reward partners and how it works during our live demo.

We also discussed our progress and upcoming schedule of activity for 2019 as we move closer to achieving the Plastic-Free Community status in partnership with Surfers Against Sewage.


8.00 am Registration & refreshments

8.30 am Welcome: John Garwood, MD, Canary Wharf Group

8.40 am Plastic Free Communities update: Hugo Tagholm, CEO, Surfers Against Sewage

8.50 am Q&A session

9.10 am Breaking The Plastic Habit reward scheme – launch & live demo


Thursday 10th January 2019


8:00 - 9:30am


Level 39, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5AB


John Garwood
Managing Director and Group Company Secretary, Canary Wharf Group

As Board Member and chair of Canary Wharf Group’s Corporate Responsibility Committee, John oversees the delivery of Breaking The Plastic Habit and will announce the impacts the programme has made to date and what’s to come for 2019.


Hugo Tagholm
Chief Executive, Surfers Against Sewage

Hugo has overseen a sustained period of development, growth and impact for Surfers Against Sewage securing its position as one of the UK's most effective environmental charities. As co-host, Hugo will discuss the plastic-free community accreditation and what this means within an urban community.



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World Environment Day 2018
9:00 AM09:00

World Environment Day 2018

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On World Environment Day, 5 June 2018, we held a debate and built a cross-sector expert panel to engage, discuss and lead the plastic pollution conversation. With representatives from across key sectors that influence, or are influenced, by the plastic pollution issue, we kick-started the conversation.

As a result, our 12-month programme, Breaking The Plastic Habit, was launched to eliminate single-use plastic across Canary Wharf, pilot new technologies and encourage positive behavioural change.

Outcomes from the debate detailed the need to

Simplify, Educate and Collaborate.

Simplify: clarity and consistency in communication.

Educate: guidance and increased understanding of ways and reasons to break the plastic habit.

Collaborate: actively work together to achieve a strategic and coherent vision for plastics.


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