Selfridges bans plastic bottles to tackle ocean pollution

Signal of change / Selfridges bans plastic bottles to tackle ocean pollution

By Michael Zahn / 24 Aug 2015

Selfridges has banned single-use plastic water bottles from its food halls and restaurants to make an impact on the pollution of oceans, saving approximately 400,000 bottles each year. As Group Deputy Chairman Alannah Weston explains, the business aims to encourage people “to think twice about their use of plastic water bottles, which ultimately end up as waste destroying our precious oceans”. In the London food hall, customers can instead bring their own bottles and quench their thirst at a newly opened ‘Sea Change Drinking Fountain’ free of charge. In addition, Selfridges will offer an array of reusable Tetrapak and glass alternatives.

As part of Project Ocean, in conjunction with Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the Marine Reserves Coalition (MRC), Selfridges is committed to marine conservation as well as to the protection of the world’s oceans.

Image credit: Damien Cox / Flickr

So what?

A considerable amount of plastic found in the world oceans originates from consumer waste. Approximately 13 million tonnes of plastic waste are released into the oceans every year. Some expect that, within the next decade, oceans could hold as much as one kilogram of plastic for every three kilograms of fish.

The long-term implications for the environment are devastating for marine ecosystems, with consequences also for human diets. Plastic materials used for bottles can take between 450 – 1,000 years to decompose. Small plastic particles, so-called micro-plastics, persist for longer. These particles are absorbed by organisms and consequently reach the food chain. 

Prof. Jonathan Baillie, Director of Conservation Programmes at ZSL, points out that the bulk of plastic entering oceans comprises single-use items such as water bottles. For John Sauven, Greenpeace UK Executive Director, “the actions taken by Selfridges to raise awareness about the plastic in our oceans are a courageous step that other retailers need to urgently follow.”


Jambeck, et al. (2015). Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean. Science, 347(6223), 768-771.

Selfridges & Co. (2015, July 20) Project ocean takes action against plastic

The Guardian (2015, July 9) Selfridges bans plastic water bottles in oceans conservation initiative

The Zoological Society of London (2015, August 1) Project Ocean

What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

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