Wates Residential is swapping single-use plastic cups for reusable bottles in a bid to tackle the plastics crisis.
The national developer is demonstrating its leadership in the construction sector when it comes to reducing single-use plastics waste and has committed to rolling out the change across every one of its sites.
A pilot scheme is already taking place at its mixed-use Abbey Area redevelopment in Camden, where Wates is building 141 homes as well as additional retail and commercial spaces. On this site, the reusable bottles have been bought from a social enterprise and distributed to the entire workforce, who can use fresh water stations to fill them up.
Previously, the Abbey Area redevelopment used an estimated 120,000 cups per year, which cost just over £1,300. Over a 10-year period, Wates estimates that swapping to reusable bottles could save approximately £4,350 per site, as well as reducing landfill by around 5,000kg and helping to reduce litter and marine pollution.
Wates is also hoping the change will help encourage employees to cut down their use of single-use plastic bottles.
The white, blue and green reusable bottles are also being used to spread the word of Wates’ ‘We’re Safer Together’ campaign, a long-term strategy that aims to achieve zero harm across the Wates Group by 2020.
The decision to move to reusable bottles follows the BBC’s documentary Blue Planet II, which highlighted the severe effects plastic pollution is having on the marine environment.
Thames 21, a charity working to improve London’s waterways, has previously reported that 10% of items washed up on the Thames foreshores are single-use plastic bottles, while 4,350 single-use bottles were recently found in one day by one of the charity’s volunteer groups.
Wates has made this commitment following a proposal put forward by Denise Southard, a document controller and community champion for the company, who looked at how the Abbey Area team could reduce their plastic waste.
Wates Residential, which aims to build lasting legacies for communities as well as much-needed new housing, will continue to look at ways that further plastic reduction can be implemented, with the aim of spearheading positive change across the sector.
The business is already encouraging the creation of ‘Green Teams’, who will look out for avoidable waste, while the Wates Group has made a number of commitments by 2020 including protecting and enhancing biodiversity, building sustainability knowledge, procuring responsibly sourced materials and working to shape the industry on energy efficient standards.
Paul Nicholls, Managing Director of Wates Residential South, said:
“Reducing our single-use plastics waste is something we feel very passionate about at Wates Residential and this great initiative from Denise is another step on our journey towards doing that.
We hope this commitment will not only drive change across our sites, but will also lead to new ambitions in the wider industry. We believe cutting down on avoidable plastic waste is the right thing to do and we are proud to be doing our bit to protect our Blue Planet.”
Denise Southard, a document controller and community champion for Wates, said:
“After watching Blue Planet II and seeing the horrific damage that plastic can have on the environment, I was inspired to encourage others to reduce their plastic waste.
Wates Residential has been extremely supportive in this and I am proud to work for a company that has embraced my idea so whole-heartedly. I can’t believe how easy it was to implement a simple swap from disposable cups to reusable bottles and hope other businesses are encouraged to do the same.”