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12 winners of The Ocean Awards

12 winners of The Ocean Awards

9 of 12 9/12
The Ocean Awards winner Selfridges

Winner — Corporate and Social Responsibility: Selfridges

For — its Project Ocean initiative

Photo of Selfridges MD Anne Pitcher by Kevin Davies

The Corporate and Social Responsibility award is for the company that has done the most to address ocean conservation, whether through sustainability issues or addressing pollution threats, such as plastics. Selfridges is a winner at The Ocean Awards because of its Project Ocean initiative, which last year removed _single-use plastic bottles from its food halls and restaurants._

Since its launch in 2011, Project Ocean, a collaboration between the British department store Selfridges and the Zoological Society of London, has

campaigned on a range of marine-themed issues: from not eating endangered fish to the need for more reserves. In 2015, however, it focused on raising awareness of these issues and driving change to reduce the amount of plastic waste we casually discard.

Last summer Selfridges staged an exhibition in its Ultralounge, curated by Jane Withers, that invited shoppers to “imagine life without the plastic water bottle”. It drew attention to the fact that almost 400 million tonnes of plastic are produced globally each year – only about 10 per cent of which is recycled – and that eight million tonnes of plastic are dumped each year in the ocean, accounting for up to 80 per cent of marine debris. This creates immense concentrations of potentially toxic plastic waste formed by the gyres (systems of rotating currents) now at large in the world’s oceans. Indeed, within the next decade the ratio of fish to plastic in the world’s oceans is expected to be about 3:1.

Among several arresting, specially commissioned installations was a collection of objects named Gyrecraft, made from plastic recovered from the North Atlantic, designed by Studio Swine, including a replica of the 22 metre research vessel from which they harvested the plastic waste. Within the “ship”, visitors were able to listen to recordings explaining what happens to plankton when they ingest the plastic, and by extension what happens to other marine species when they do the same. It is therefore a problem that extends all the way up the food chain.

“Customer awareness of Project Ocean has been significant,” says Pitcher. “In terms of changing customer perceptions, 80 per cent of those polled said that it made them think about the issues,” whether it was buying fewer single-use plastic bottles, recycling more, donating money or simply spreading the word.

For Selfridges, Project Ocean is part of what Pitcher describes as “buying better, inspiring change: an approach to sustainable business that inspires people, partners and customers to respect the environment, buy responsibly and champion sustainable products that contribute to healthy and happy communities”.

Highly commended — Unilever

For — phasing out, by 1 January 2015, its use of plastic microbeads/micro-plastics in its personal care products worldwide by using suitable alternatives.

Highly commended — The Economist

For — hosting, in June 2015, its third World Ocean Summit, attended by 350 government ministers, business leaders and environmentalists from all over the world, to discuss how to move from a conventional ocean economy to a “blue” economy. It also ran the Ocean Innovation Challenge, an initiative that called for solutions to alleviate the tension between growth and sustainability in the oceans.

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