EY becomes latest Big Four firm to ban plastic cups from UK offices

03 August 2018 Consultancy.uk 3 min. read
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EY has announced that it plans to phase out the use of single-use cups across its UK offices by the close of 2018. The news comes as the professional services world, in line with British industry as a whole, works to address public concerns about the alarming levels of plastic finding its way into global oceans.

Earlier in 2018, KPMG became the latest global entity trading in the UK to pledge to reduce plastic waste in its offices, by removing all plastic water cups from its UK locations. The announcement followed mounting public pressure on the corporate world to improve on plastic waste, on the back of the broadcast of the BBC’s landmark series Blue Planet II, which showed numerous sea creatures suffering the effects of human-made pollutants. The UK Government and corporations doing business in Britain have subsequently made efforts to cut down their use of plastics, with KPMG becoming the first of the professional services industry’s Big Four to do so.

Since then, rival firm PwC followed suit, launching new trial programme at the same time, running in conjunction with social enterprise GiveMeTap, which is providing water bottles to the firm. Now, EY has become the third firm of the gang of four to tackle plastic waste formally, with the roll-out of a ban on plastic and paper single-use cups across all the company’s UK presences due to start in Autumn, with completion scheduled for the end of 2018.

EY becomes latest Big Four firm to ban plastic cups from UK offices

According to Caroline Artis, EY’s London Senior Partner and Environmental Lead, the move, along with its removal of plastic cutlery and other catering consumables, will cut the firm’s consumption of single-use plastic items by more than 7.7 million pieces per year. Artis added, “Feedback from our people has highlighted that plastic pollution is one of their biggest environmental concerns and I am so proud of this initiative supporting our continued efforts to build a better working world.”

This means that Deloitte is the last member of the Big Four not to have completed some kind of plastic cup ban – though the firm is presently carrying out a review of all disposable items, including plastic cups. Currently, Deloitte also provides ceramic cups and dishwashers, in place of disposables, in the majority of its regional offices. Like PwC, Deloitte is running a programme to supply new starters metal water bottles, which it says has reduced plastic cup usage by half, and again these are sourced from GiveMeTap.

Elsewhere, the  fifth largest auditor and advisory firm in the UK, Grant Thornton, is understood to be exploring ways to increase its recycling levels, while the firm also encourages its workforce to share its commitment by taking on projects such as Thames 21, where volunteers collect waste from the Thames. The sixth largest such firm in Britain, BDO, is currently trialling cups that use recycled materials called Frugalpac, while the firm states that almost half its UK offices no longer use plastic cups.

Related: Global effort needed to tackle plastic recycling waste issues.