Press release

Howden Group Holdings commits to plastic neutrality


  • Howden Group Holdings
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Howden Group Holdings

Howden pledges to reduce its plastic consumption, and offset the rest, as part of its wider commitment to curbing the impact its business has on the environment.

International insurance group, Howden Group Holdings (‘Howden’ or ‘the Group’), has partnered with ocean clean-up organisation, Seven Clean Seas (‘SCS’) to help achieve its goal of becoming plastic neutral.

SCS will help Howden to measure and reduce its plastic consumption, and then to offset what remains. Through SCS, Howden has already offset over 66,000kg of plastic - the estimated amount used by its workforce during 2020. The Group is also helping SCS to remove plastic from the marine environment through its Foundation’s funding of SCS’ innovative River Plastic Recovery System.

The partnership with SCS will complement Howden’s existing initiatives aimed at minimising its impact on the environment, such as its ongoing strategic partnership with The Nature Conservancy, who have offset 25,000 tonnes of CO2, on behalf of the Group, through the purchase of certified carbon credits for projects in Africa.

David Howden, CEO of Howden Group Holdings, commented: “When we talk about sustainability, we are talking about building value for the long term, and creating a business that our employees can be proud of.

“Our job as an insurance group is to mitigate risks, so while we’re looking at what products we need to develop to help our clients respond to increasingly prevalent ESG risks, we equally need to look internally and curb the impact our own businesses are having on the environment. Our partnership with Seven Cleans Seas is an important part of this.

“Plastic pollution is a major risk to the health of our oceans and wildlife, and, potentially, to human health. Plastic accounts for 12% of total oil consumption¹, so using it is also directly contributing to climate change.

“Based on SCS’ estimations, if our 8,500 employees reduce their plastic consumption by just 25%, that’s a reduction of over 23,000kg annually. While reducing plastic consumption to zero, may not be feasible at this stage, for the plastic we do continue to use, Seven Clean Seas’ offsetting initiative will allow us to remove at least as much plastic as we have generated from the world’s most polluted rivers.

“By entering this partnership, Howden sees a real opportunity to engage employees, clients and the insurance industry to take proactive steps in tackling the plastic problem before it is too late.”

Tom Peacock-Nazil, Founder of Seven Clean Seas, also commented: “Our partnership with Howden has come at a pivotal moment for Seven Clean Seas. Howden’s funding has enabled us to take our River Plastic Recovery System from design to prototype this year, while the Group’s wider commitment to reducing its own plastic consumption is the type of action we’re calling employers to make across the globe to minimise their plastic footprint and the devastating consequences of plastic pollution.

“Scientists don’t yet have a full understanding of the potential damage to human health from ingesting microplastics but possible impacts include gene mutilation and repercussions for reproductive health. We can’t afford to wait five, 10, 20 years for the data on the human impact. If we carry on at the current rate of consumption, annual plastic flows to the ocean will reach 29 million metric tons in 2040 (up from 11 million in 2016)². We’re fast passing the point of no return, and so we’re therefore urging consumers and businesses to follow Howden in adopting a more conscientious approach to plastic consumption.”

¹International Energy Agency, 2017
²The Pew Charitable Trust & SystemIQ, 2020