Plastic pollution is getting worse every year. With a recycling rate below the national average, London is under pressure to meet the UK’s 2050 target for a net-zero economy.
Let’s take a look at four London businesses who are successfully tackling the plastic waste issue.
Selfridges: Protecting the ocean from plastic pollution
Selfridges, a London-based luxury retailer, led the Plastic Ocean campaign in 2011 alongside ZSL (Zoological Society of London). In line with the campaign, Selfridges removed plastic water bottles for single-use from each of its stores – saving 450,000 plastic bottles a year.
From January 2019 the London-based luxury store launched garment bags made from 100% recycled plastic bottles. These are typically given free of charge when customers buy high-end suits or coats. Together with Juxtepo, a reusable bag company, Selfridges launched the range of garment bags in three sizes: small, medium and large. Each one uses seven, eight or twelve plastic bottles respectively, saving more than 222,000 plastic bottles from ending up in a landfill, according to the retailer.
Hoxton Hotel: coffee cups to curb plastic pollution from guests
Research from the Standard revealed that more than 99.75% of plastic-coated coffee cups do not get recycled – adding to London’s plastic pollution epidemic. The Hoxton Hotel in Shoreditch is paving the way to sustainable recycling with cups made from guests’ coffee waste.
The hotel joined forces with Kaffeform, a Berlin-based company, to create the reusable ‘Weducer’ coffee cup, made from ground coffee waste. Guests at the Hoxton are encouraged to reuse their cups or dispose of them in an organic waste recycling bin.
The Hoxton also uses its waste coffee grounds to make body scrubs. It sends them to East London-based skincare company, Monta Monta, which turns the coffee waste into exfoliating body scrubs. The skincare products are sold as part of the Hoxton’s “Best of London Product Range”.
Notpla: Making plastic packaging disappear
London-based start-up, Notpla, has pioneered an innovative solution to plastic pollution. It’s the mastermind behind Ooho, a film-wrap used to package drinks or sauces. Made from seaweed and plants, it’s both edible and readily biodegradable – marking a pivotal step against London’s plastic pollution.
Notpla showcased its product at the Virgin Money’s London Marathon where runners were traditionally handed plastic bottles, adding to London’s plastic pollution epidemic. This year, volunteers instead gave runners a water-filled Ooho. Runners could grab the small water pouches and put them into their mouths, biting down on them to release the water.
Notpla’s product has also been adopted at festivals and private events to distribute juices and alcoholic cocktails.
Sainsburys: Four-point plan against plastic pollution
Sainsbury’s headquarters in London has gained recognition for its four-point plan to combat plastic pollution. Remove, reduce, replace and recycle were the basis of its first initiative to remove plastic bags for loose fruit and vegetables, offering paper bags made from recycled materials.
Its customers are also incentivised with a 25p discount on hot drinks if they provide a reusable cup. To date, Sainsbury’s has eliminated 1,284 tonnes of plastic through its measures to combat plastic pollution.
Looking forward, Sainsbury’s has pledged to stop using dark coloured plastics across its UK stores by March 2020. It has also promised that all of its plastic packagings will be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.
Making London more eco-friendly
In the face of increasing plastic pollution, four London-based retailers are setting the benchmark for providing sustainable solutions. If London is to improve its recycling rate and help meet the UK’s 2050 net-zero target, other retailers should take note.
They would do well to implement equally innovative business strategies, ones that reach out to and reward their customers who are becoming more and more eco-conscious. Eco-friendly business is a win-win across the board. Companies attract more discerning customers who want to reduce their carbon footprint, while London helps the nation meet its targets for a cleaner economy.