In a market first for the UK foodservice industry, Elior UK and global water charity Water Unite have teamed up to launch a new campaign that sustainably meets the ongoing demand for bottled water.
The initiative forms part a new emerging ‘plastics economy’ designed to ensure that plastics never become waste - aligning with the principles of the circular economy and Elior’s wider strategy focused on tackling single-use materials, sourcing sustainable ingredients, supporting communities and encouraging healthy lifestyles.
From 1 October, Elior will be making a donation for every bottle of still and sparkling water sold in all of its sites (Elior, Lexington, Taylor Shaw, Caterplus and Edwards & Blake). Water Unite will use the funds to invest in innovative plastics recycling programmes in India, Mozambique and Kenya which will ensure that plastic ends up as part of the circular economy.
Charlotte Wright, corporate responsibility manager at Elior, says: “Plastic pollution is a global problem with 300 million tonnes of plastic produced each year and approximately 8 million pieces of plastic pollution find their way into our oceans every day.
“While our long-term goal is to completely remove single use plastic from our sites, there’s still a huge demand for bottled water. So we asked ourselves ‘What we can do right now? What immediate change can we make for a circular economy?’
This commitment with Water Unite is a significant first step in our long-term plan to reduce the impact of plastic on our oceans and environment. 85% of plastic in the ocean comes from developing countries due to the lack of recycling infrastructure. By repurposing plastic in these areas, we can focus on reducing plastic waste, positively impacting communities where plastic would have otherwise been environmentally destructive.”
While demand for bottled drinks remains, the campaign is part of a wider acknowledgement to improve recycling, offering a realistic immediate solution to reduce the effect of plastic at every part of its journey. Only 10% of plastic is currently recycled, and each year, 1.3 billion tonnes of global landfill waste is generated.
The new campaign will directly improve plastic recycling in some of the world’s poorest communities, raising money for long-lasting educational and practical initiatives. For instance, plastic will be repurposed as road bricks, improving transport and employment within these areas - making a lasting difference to global waste management.
One of the projects Elior’s fundraising will support is Gjenge Makers, which provides durable, recycled construction material through Kenya and the African continent. Discarded plastic is collected and formed into bricks to build sustainable and affordable housing. What’s more, the project has created 112 jobs for people from marginalised communities.
Lord Malcolm Bruce, Chair of Water Unite said: “We are delighted to welcome Elior as the first partner in the foodservice sector, their leadership in sustainability is world renowned. We invite all foodservice companies to join in Elior’s actions to be part of a global movement to address the issues of plastic waste and help build a circular economy. Together with our partners, through a micro-contribution from bottled water sales, we can collaboratively raise up to $5bn a year to create sustainable planetary change.’
The fundraising initiative and a collective recycling effort will be encouraged at each Elior site, supported by a range of marketing materials, point of sale displays and a social media campaign.