Brookfield Properties’ pioneering program to break the plastic habit takes out major CitySwitch award

10 May 2023

Global real estate operator Brookfield Properties has been awarded a coveted CitySwitch Award in recognition of its ground-breaking Breaking the Plastic Habit program in Australia.

A hands-on waste reduction initiative, Breaking the Plastic Habit is a program of action and awareness, tackling head on the devastating environmental challenge of single use plastics. In an Australian first, the business has eliminated more than 2.7 million single use plastics from its national portfolio of managed office buildings and precincts.

“Australia consumes over 1,000,000 tonnes of single use plastics every year that degrade into harmful microplastics and enter our oceans, marine food chain and eventually, our bodies. Our Breaking the Plastic Habit program is designed for us to take affirmative action internally, while creating an environment of awareness to assist our tenants, stakeholders and the broader community to reduce their reliance on single use plastics,” said Danny De Sousa, Vice President | Sustainability and Innovation, Brookfield Properties.

“Breaking the Plastic Habit sets the benchmark for commercial tenants, developers, retailers, and consumers. It shows how small, everyday commitments and a culture of sustainability combine to deliver a major, long-term environmental impact.”

CitySwitch Award, presented by Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, is to recognise outcomes from the partnership of tenants, building managers and owners, with collaboration key to driving net zero buildings.

To ensure the success of Breaking the Plastic Habit, Brookfield Properties first analysed single use plastic sources within its own office supply chains to understand and minimise the problem. The company then cut a swathe through the supply chain of its commercial office buildings and precincts, before developing partnerships with Plastic Free July and Plastic Oceans Australasia to help build out its awareness program to its tenant community and the general public.

“By starting small, we were able to identify plenty of quick wins,” said Mathew Chandler, Senior Vice President | Marketing and Communications, Brookfield Properties.

”We removed dozens of sources of single use plastic products from our staff kitchens, such as condiments, food wraps and breakfast spreads – and replaced them with single use plastic-free alternatives. Our sustainability and operations teams took lessons learned from those first steps to then target the supply chains of our commercial property portfolios, replacing everything from bin liners, umbrella bags, plastic coated stickers and posters, and bathroom amenities.”

As part of the program’s outreach, Brookfield Properties teamed up with Plastic Oceans Australasia to pilot its EPIC waste solution program at Brookfield Place Sydney which encouraged the building’s tenants to understand and analyse the sources of single use plastics in their office waste, and to build action strategies and awareness amongst their employees to reduce consumption.

Breaking the Plastic Habit led to a range of initiatives nationwide including:

  • Partnering with Containers for Change to collect plastic bottles that couldn’t be avoided
  • The installation of water refill stations to encourage the re-use of drink containers
  • Art collaborations and activations to shine a light on the harm caused by single use plastics
  • Volunteering opportunities to assist in beach clean ups
  • Ongoing awareness programs being deployed across digital and physical channels to Brookfield Properties’ tenant customers

Breaking the Plastic Habit was also highly commended in WA’s WasteSorted 2022 awards.