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WPP pledges to phase out single-use plastic in its premises

WPP made a series of initiatives designed to ensure it is playing its part in tackling pollution from single-use plastics.

The company will phase out single-use plastics in its premises by the end of the year. It will no longer buy or provide single-use plastics such as bottles, straws, cutlery and cups in any of its 3,000-plus agency offices and campuses worldwide. And it will make it easier for people to recycle their own plastic materials at work.

WPP has signed the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, led jointly by UN Environment and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, thereby endorsing the vision of a circular economy for plastic in which it is designed never to become waste or pollution. Other signatories include Colgate-Palmolive, Danone, Johnson & Johnson, Mars, Nestlé, PepsiCo, SC Johnson, The Coca-Cola Company and Unilever.

The company has also committed to work with partners and clients to: inspire consumers to think differently about plastic packaging and change their behaviour; create more sustainable approaches to product and packaging design; and develop new systems for delivering and recycling products. Facebook is among the first partners to collaborate; the two companies are exploring ways to work together to harness their collective global reach to drive action among consumers.

The announcement follows a special internal WPP summit in May which brought together people from across the company’s agencies to discuss how to reduce the impact of plastic on the planet, from redesigning products, packaging and experiences to creating closed-loop systems and using communications to improve recycling rates. It also builds on various existing initiatives within WPP agencies. To kick off the programme, WPP will host a series of “Unpack the Problem” creative hackathons over the summer to develop actionable ideas that help tackle plastic pollution.

Mark Read, CEO of WPP, said, “Our industry has tremendous collective power to bring about change for the better, but our efforts have to begin at home. Taking the plastic out of Wire & Plastic Products by phasing out single-use plastics in our offices is just the first step. People expect companies to act responsibly and help them live more sustainably, and our clients look to us to help them deliver brands with purpose. We look forward to working with partners across the industry and using our creativity, insight and scale to make a difference.”

Sian Sutherland, co-founder of the global movement A Plastic Planet, said, “Plastic is a miracle material born from man’s creativity. But our misuse of plastic has now created an environmental disaster that our children will inherit if we don’t turn off the plastic tap fast. To have the full creative force of WPP focused on driving change at many levels will accelerate the pace globally. Bad design got us into this mess and good design will get us out of it.”

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