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Event marks a wake-up call to FMs to address single use plastic

A special event, The Last Straw: single use plastic in the built environment, which was held recently at the RICS headquarters by the IFMA UK team and FMJ, featured leading environmental campaigners – with a call to arms for FMs to use their roles in helping to outlaw single use plastic from the workplace.

Summing up the speedy trajectory of plastic from an innovation into a worldwide threat over the space of just a couple of decades, Greenpeace UK’s Will McCallum said: “A material that started out as hygienic, durable and useful which we thought was going to provide us with a world of solutions, has spread and become a real problem.” He described how it has been found everywhere around the world, from the frozen Antarctic to mango trees in the tropics.

Amy Meek, the articulate teenager from Kids Against Plastic, reminded the adults in the room that “Us kids are tired of waiting for the adults to do the work for us. We don’t know the long-term impact of plastic pollution, but we do know this, if we all do our bit now, we can stop this problem before it’s too late. But we’re very close to the tipping point. Please do everything you can to take meaningful and urgent action to protect the environment, and aim to leave it in a better state than you found it, for future generations to enjoy and protect.”

Natalie Fee of City To Sea who campaigns to address marine plastic pollution, revealed that 85 per cent of workers wanted to do something about the problem. She also remarked that given FMs ability to influence behaviours at work, she’s already working within the sector to help introduce refillable bottles into organisations, alongside the installation of water fountains.

Summing up the challenge, Antony Law, MD at Churchill said: “Single use plastic is as strategic as it gets, and if not solved, will affect our children, our children’s children, our oceans and our planet. And even if all we care about is our bottom line, it will affect that too.”

He concluded: “How can we expect to appeal to the next generation – if we don’t seem to care about them? We have a decision to make, ignore today and hope someone else sorts it out or use it as inspiration to drive some change within our own organisations.”

IFMA UK and FMJ aim to return to this subject in a future event where we’ll concentrate on the practical ways FM can begin to make a real difference in the fight against single use plastic.

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