5 June marks World Environmental Day with this year’s #BeatPlasticPollution theme reminding everyone that their actions on plastic pollution can make a difference.
As a global business, RLB takes its role in creating a better tomorrow seriously, one that is sustainable and friendlier to the environment, and therefore we asked the RLB global community what actions they were taking to help tackle plastic pollution.
The Global Challenge
We know that plastic usage and waste is a huge problem worldwide and affecting our natural surroundings including plastic debris being found in our rivers, lakes and oceans worldwide. In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, around 17 million tonnes of plastic waste are produced annually with much of it ending up in dumpsites and ultimately into our waterways.
It is no surprise to see that when we look at plastic consumption across the world it is the developed countries that are the larger culprits of plastic usage – with a global average of 45 kg per person, 94 kg in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and 136 kg per person in Western Europe compared to African consumption per capita 16 kg.
The consequences of this plastic use and lack of sustainable disposal have dire consequences: a recent report finding that nine in 10 turtles and five in 10 camels found dead in the UAE had plastic in their stomachs, and a study in London found that three quarters of the species of fish sampled from the River Thames had plastic fibres in their gut.
RLB’s offices’ role in reduce, reuse and recycle
RLB is playing its part with teams globally looking at ways they can help reduce plastic usage and pollution both in the office and in their communities. Globally RLB has set out an ambitious target to be carbon net zero by 2030 and has pledged support to international targets to hold global temperature rise at 1.5°C as set out in the Paris Agreement.
RLB teams worldwide have pledged to monitor their own plastic consumption and wastage within each region and an education campaign to encourage recycling and reuse both within the office and at home. In the UK, RLB has switched from plastic to glass milk bottles with re-useable lids and changed their fruit supplier to ensure that daily fruit baskets are packaged in bio-degradable wrapping with a tree planted for every basket purchased. This accompanies a litter pick initiative across offices in the UK and Singapore and participating in a community recycling project in South Africa, where the RLB office is located in Africa’s first green city. In the Hong Kong and Singapore offices, beach clean ups have been organised and as well as recycling much of the waste found on the beaches, many of the RLB offices, including Mainland China and Hong Kong, have launched programmes to support teams to use less plastic in their daily life. The Dubai team has also encouraged their team to bring in preloved everyday items such as toys, shoes and cell phones that will be given to a local charity to promote reuse and recycling.
How RLB is supporting its clients on beating plastics
Of course, at RLB we are not only looking at how as an organisation we can support #BeatPlasticPollution but also how we can incorporate and advocate less plastic usage and wastage within our clients’ projects. In South Africa, legislation requires the building sector to use eco initiatives, of which recycling is a part. From a cost management perspective, the RLB team is ensuring that there are enough funds available for the various initiatives and we ensure that the relevant consultants are available to assist with this.
In the UK, the RLB team is well versed on integrating responsible sourcing of plastic construction and operational products into projects and delivery, developing strategies and supporting clients to address plastic reduction. An example of how the team is working with a client to help reduce plastic includes its work with the University Hospitals Leicester NHS Trust, where RLB delivered the Trusts Green Plan which included the NHS Plastic Pledge. The Pledge looks to eliminate the use of 33m disposable cups in patient catering and re-evaluate alternative options for many single-use items used in clinical plastics.
Eric Fong, Head of RLB’s Global CSR Committee comments,
“Events like World Environment Day and its campaign to #BeatPlasticPollution are great reminders to all of us about the part we can play in becoming more sustainable, both at work and home. At RLB our teams are looking to reduce, recycle and reuse plastic not just on this day but in their daily lives.”
Andrew Reynolds, Global Chair of RLB and CEO of RLB UK comments,
“We understand how reducing plastic within our lives is intrinsically linked with the drive for net zero carbon and a greener future. At RLB we are taking our pledge seriously and our Global CSR Committee, endorsed by the RLB Global Board, has a clear strategy on how we are reducing carbon emissions from our business activities, including the reduction of plastic. We have allocated resources to support our ambition to globally meet a net zero emissions target by 2030 and will share best practice and training and support to all regions to accelerate this collective drive.”