Danny De Sousa, Brookfield Properties

Brookfield Properties is stamping out single use plastics starting with its own headquarters and two of its urban precincts.

Both Brookfield Place Perth and Brookfield Place Sydney will take part in the “Breaking the Plastic Habit” pilot program to eliminate single use plastic from its supply chains.

The company’s ESG and innovation manager, Danny De Sousa, told The Fifth Estate that reducing plastic waste is similar to cutting carbon emissions.

“Just like getting to carbon neutral, you don’t achieve it tomorrow. It’s an ongoing journey.”

He said the company started with its own headquarters so that it could take these lessons to tenants and suppliers.

“We can say to tenants ‘this is what worked for us and here’s what was tricky’.”

De Sousa reported a few quick wins, such as suppliers of bathroom products agreeing to stop wrapping items in plastic when making deliveries to the buildings. Other single use plastics were more stubborn, he said, and will require suppliers making alterations earlier in production.

In 12 months, the company eliminated close to 100,000 single use plastic items.

Food courts and eateries present another challenge for reducing single use plastic. At the food court and restaurant precinct in Perth’s Brookfield Place, De Sousa said that the team started a conversation with each tenant to consider eradicating plastic straws, cutlery, plates, bowls and bags.

He said WA’s 2018 ban on plastic bags meant most retailers had already made a start. Other government policies, such as the state’s incoming bans to plastic plates, bowls, cups, cutlery, stirrers, straws, thick plastic bags, polystyrene food containers and helium balloon releases by 2022, are also driving retailers towards more environmentally-friendly packaging alternatives.

“…a lot of the tenants are already on board; we don’t necessarily have to push that hard on it.”

The program also includes educating occupants about avoiding single use plastics, and installing infrastructure such as water refill station in the café courts so customers can refill their reusables.

In the Perth precinct, there’s also now a reverse vending machine to recycle single use drink containers.

The program was launched to coincide with the global Plastic Free July movement, in partnership with the Plastic Free Foundation.

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