Canary Wharf Group Hosts The First Breaking The Plastic Habit Breakfast Briefing

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On 10 January, Canary Wharf Group held the first Breaking The Plastic Habit Breakfast Briefing on Level 39, co-hosted by Surfers Against Sewage CEO, Hugo Tagholm

With over 90 attendees the Breakfast Briefing was a hugely informative morning. John Garwood, Managing Director and Group Company Secretary of Canary Wharf Group provided an update on the programme and the impacts it has achieved to date, telling the audience “If we can make it work here, we can make it work elsewhere.” Hugo Tagholm, CEO of Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), one of the UK’s most influential environmental charities, talked about the work that SAS do, as well as discussing the ‘Plastic Free Community’ programme within the Canary Wharf space. 

An audience-led Q&A session with Hugo and Martin Gettings (Head of Sustainability, Canary Wharf) gave representatives from Canary Wharf, commercial and retail tenants as well as external industry experts the opportunity to find out more about the Breaking the Plastic Habit programme and how Canary Wharf will become a Plastic Free Community. 

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Canary Wharf Group is the first business district we’ve started working with," Hugo told the audience, "they are an extremely important part of creating the change we want to see. It’s about creating the new systems, products and service delivery that we need to live a lower-plastic lifestyle, eliminating those plastics that are ending up in our oceans."

When asked if a plastic free world is indeed possible, Hugo added “The characteristics that got us here is what will take us through the next 50 years. We may not know how we’ll get there, but the momentum is growing and change is happening.”

The Canary Wharf Group later updated the audience with the programme schedule for 2019 which includes new initiatives to boost the use of reusable coffee cups, remove plastic food to go packaging and communication and engagement pilots for tenants of the Estate. 


The event closed with the launch of HELPFUL, the world’s first plastic reuse and recycling reward app that simplifies reuse and recycling for consumers. HELPFUL not only incentivises but gives members of the community the knowledge and resources needed to help them find ways to reuse and recycle across the Estate, so they can reduce the amount of single use plastic they consume.

The HELPFUL app is piloted by Canary Wharf Group and will help the 150,000 people who visit and work on the Estate each day to correctly recycle waste, switch to reusable products and collect rewards.

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With 1000 downloads of the app in its first week, this pioneering Estate-wide effort to drive behavioural change is the next step in Canary Wharf Group’s continued campaign towards becoming the world’s first Plastic Free Commercial Centre following the Surfers Against Sewage framework. It is also the first time that HELPFUL have been able to incorporate rewards for reuse as well as recycling on a large scale.

As Martin Gettings said “Communication and education are key, and this app is a very high-tech way of communicating with our population and visitors. It is a real, live example of how you can put recycling and reuse into people’s day-to-day lives and get a community working together to change behaviours.”

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