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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. 


Earlier Event: January 10
Breakfast Briefing January 2019
Later Event: June 5
World Environment Day 2019