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London's Canary Wharf Aims to Be World's First Plastic-Free Commercial Center

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London's busy financial capital has made a significant announcement to stop plastic waste.


Canary Wharf Group (CWG), which owns about 16.5 million square feet of real estate, committed to becoming a plastic-free commercial center as part of Surfers Against Sewage's Plastic Free Community initiative.

The UK-based marine conservation charity has a goal of creating 125 plastic-free communities by 2020. CWG is the world's first commercial center to make this pledge.

CWG said in a press release that their efforts to eliminate plastics will focus on five areas: local business support, community engagement, community events and the creation of a steering panel.

The group said it will also work with retailers on the estate to remove at least three single-use plastics products, replace them with sustainable variants or, in some cases, eliminate all uses of single-use plastics.

Roughly 105,000 people are employed at Canary Wharf's high rises, retail and other office spaces, with the number workers expected to double over the next decade, according to Galliard Homes. Large banks and financial institutions such as HSBC, Barclays and Citigroup operate in the estate.

CWG has already set ambitious sustainability goals, including its ongoing Breaking The Plastic Habit campaign. It has previously pledged to create zero-carbon buildings by 2030, reduce water consumption and increase use of renewable energy, as Climate Action noted.

"Going for 'Plastic Free Community' accreditation with Surfers Against Sewage is our next step in the #BreakingThePlasticHabit campaign, our framework to continue this long-term strategy, something we truly hope will become a part of Canary Wharf's legacy," CWG's co-managing director, Steve Greig, said in the press release. "It is our dream that this project will change our incredible community, and its environment, in a credible and positive way."

Surfers Against Sewage's chief executive Hugo Tagholm applauded CWG's announcement.

"This is fantastic news for London, the UK and the rest of the world. It's a world first and sets a very high standard," Tagholm said in the press release. "Given the scale of threats to our coasts and marine habitats, there could not be a more important time to take action on plastic pollution. We congratulate Canary Wharf Group and call on other London boroughs and districts to take similar action on avoidable single-use plastics, with the aim of stopping plastic pollution."

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