A smartphone app used to find free water refills on the go has now been downloaded over 100,000 times.
Under the Refill scheme, thirsty Britons can replenish their bottles with tap water provided free at 18,000 high street shops, cafes or businesses listed on the app, rather than buying and then discarding plastic bottles.
The initiative by City to Sea – a UK not-for-profit organization committed to fighting plastic pollution – is supported by the UK water industry. Robeco signed a sponsorship partnership with City to Sea in October 2018 because, as pioneers of sustainability investing, we too are dedicated to protecting the environment. Cutting plastic pollution by talking directly with producers to find solutions to the problem is one of Robeco’s four engagement objectives for 2019.
One million plastic bottles are bought globally every minute, of which nine out of ten are single use. Many end up in the ocean, with 8 million metric tons of plastic dumped at sea each year. Aside from the sheer waste, it presents a major threat to marine life, killing millions of sea creatures every year. This now presents a threat to human health as well, as plastic is ingested by fish and enters the food chain.
Research by Refill shows that the average person in the UK will use 150 plastic water bottles every year, of which half are not recycled. More than 15 million are littered, landfilled or incinerated every day, producing 233,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year. If just one in ten people refilled once a week, it would mean 340 million less plastic bottles a year in circulation.
“We’ve increased our number of app users past 100,000, and have also increased the retention of app users, so more people are coming back to use it, which is great,” says Natalie Fee, founder of City to Sea. “That is spread over 160 local schemes managed by over 250 volunteers who run Refill in their communities. And we’re now expanding into Europe, working with Refill in the Netherlands, New Zealand, Japan and Greece.”
“Robeco has helped us to put more funding in the app to help with the roll-out of Refill London, and it’s a win-win, because Robeco can then use the Refill brand at industry events to engage with this issue and give people a tangible experience of stopping plastic pollution.”
Fee says she decided to work with Robeco after realizing that engaging with investee companies to solve environmental, social or governance (ESG) problems can be as, if not more effective, as boycotting them through exclusions. It follows recent success with a ground-breaking agreement to set short-term carbon footprint targets linked to executive pay at Royal Dutch Shell.
“I’m really excited about Robeco engaging on plastic for the next three years,” she says. “It helps me learn and get a different perspective, and feel more optimistic about the change coming from within the corporations, as the plastic polluters have more pressure from their shareholders.”
“Robeco invests in the companies we campaign against, so initially it didn’t seem like a resonant partnership. But after a lot of reading, meetings and due diligence, I learnt about the power that Robeco can have through active engagement. What turned it for me was seeing the changes that Robeco has brought about at Shell.”
“It’s a way of working within the system. It may still mean increased returns for the investors, but it can certainly speed up the changes we so desperately need to see when it comes to companies taking responsibility for their emissions and polluting practices.” Robeco’s three-year engagement will focus on food and beverage producers that make extensive use of plastic bottles and food trays for packaging, along with the plastics manufacturers themselves. As part of this program,Robeco has become a signatory to the Plastic Solutions Investor Alliance, an international coalition of investors that engages with publicly traded consumer goods companies on the threat posed by plastic waste and pollution. It also supports the Ellen MacArthur initiative, a campaign started by the former round-the-world yachtswoman to move to a recycling-based, circular economy.
“With our engagement, we aim to stimulate the transition to recyclable, reusable and/or compostable packaging,” says Carola van Lamoen, Head of Active Ownership at Robeco. “We have full support from both our clients and our own investment teams for our engagement program on single-use plastic. We see a growing awareness among companies, investors and other stakeholders that single use plastic is a material topic that needs to be addressed. We collaborate with other investors in our dialogues with companies; our partnership with City to Sea further strengthens our engagement approach.”
It is starting to make a difference at a corporate level. “Attending the Plastic Recycling Show Europe in Amsterdam in April 2019 showed us that many industry players are now setting targets to increase use of recycled plastic in their products to support a transition to a circular economy for plastics,” says Peter van der Werf, Senior Engagement Specialist at Robeco.
“We encouraged petrochemical companies that produce virgin plastic material to diversify by investing in recycling capacity. In addition, we asked beverage companies to support deposit return schemes globally to increase their ability to source recycled PET for their bottles”
The contents of this document have not been reviewed by the Securities and Futures Commission ("SFC") in Hong Kong. If you are in any doubt about any of the contents of this document, you should obtain independent professional advice. This document has been distributed by Robeco Hong Kong Limited (‘Robeco’). Robeco is regulated by the SFC in Hong Kong.
This document has been prepared on a confidential basis solely for the recipient and is for information purposes only. Any reproduction or distribution of this documentation, in whole or in part, or the disclosure of its contents, without the prior written consent of Robeco, is prohibited. By accepting this documentation, the recipient agrees to the foregoing
This document is intended to provide the reader with information on Robeco’s specific capabilities, but does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell certain securities or investment products. Investment decisions should only be based on the relevant prospectus and on thorough financial, fiscal and legal advice. Please refer to the relevant offering documents for details including the risk factors before making any investment decisions.
The contents of this document are based upon sources of information believed to be reliable. This document is not intended for distribution to or use by any person or entity in any jurisdiction or country where such distribution or use would be contrary to local law or regulation.
Investment Involves risks. Historical returns are provided for illustrative purposes only and do not necessarily reflect Robeco’s expectations for the future. The value of your investments may fluctuate. Past performance is no indication of current or future performance.
Please read this information carefully.
This website is prepared and issued by Robeco Hong Kong Limited ("Robeco"), which is a corporation licensed by the Securities and Futures Commission in Hong Kong to engage in Type 1 (dealing in securities); Type 4 (advising in securities) and Type 9 (asset management) regulated activities. This website has not been reviewed by the Securities and Futures Commission or any regulatory authority in Hong Kong.
2. Important risk disclosures
2. Important risk disclosures Robeco Capital Growth Funds (“the Funds”) are distinguished by their respective specific investment policies or any other specific features. Please read carefully for the risks of the Funds:
3. Local legal and sales restrictions
The information contained in the Website is being provided for information purposes.
Neither information nor any opinion expressed on the Website constitutes a solicitation, an offer or a recommendation to buy, sell or dispose of any investment, to engage in any other transaction or to provide any investment advice or service. The information contained in the Website does not constitute investment advice or a recommendation and was prepared without regard to the specific objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person who may receive it. An investment in a Robeco product should only be made after reading the related legal documents such as management regulations, prospectuses, most recent annual and semi-annual reports, which can be all be obtained free of charge at www.robeco.com/hk/en and at the Robeco Hong Kong office.
4. Use of the Website
The information is based on certain assumptions, information and conditions applicable at a certain time and may be subject to change at any time without notice. Robeco aims to provide accurate, complete and up-to-date information, obtained from sources of information believed to be reliable. Persons accessing the Website are responsible for their choice and use of the information.
5. Investment performance
No assurance can be given that the investment objective of any investment products will be achieved. No representation or promise as to the performance of any investment products or the return on an investment is made. The value of your investments may fluctuate. The value of the assets of Robeco investment products may also fluctuate as a result of the investment policy and/or the developments on the financial markets. Results obtained in the past are no guarantee for the future. Past performance, projection, or forecast included in this Website should not be taken as an indication or guarantee of future performance, and no representation or warranty, express or implied, is made regarding future performance. Fund performance figures are based on the month-end trading prices and are calculated on a total return basis with dividends reinvested. Return figures versus the benchmark show the investment management result before management and/or performance fees; the fund returns are with dividends reinvested and based on net asset values with prices and exchange rates of the valuation moment of the benchmark.
Investments involve risks. Past performance is not a guide to future performance. Potential investors should read the terms and conditions contained in the relevant offering documents and in particular the investment policies and the risk factors before any investment decision is made. Investors should ensure they fully understand the risks associated with the fund and should also consider their own investment objective and risk tolerance level. Investors are reminded that the value and income (if any) from shares of the fund may be volatile and could change substantially within a short period of time, and investors may not get back the amount they have invested in the fund. If in doubt, please seek independent financial and professional advice.
6. Third party websites
Following links to any other off-site pages or websites of third parties shall be at the own risk of the person following such link. Robeco has not reviewed any of the websites linked to or referred to by the Website and does not endorse or accept any responsibility for their content nor the products, services or other items offered through them. Robeco shall have no liability for any losses or damages arising from the use of or reliance on the information contained on websites of third parties, including, without limitation, any loss of profit or any other direct or indirect damage.
7. Limitation of liability
Robeco as well as (possible) other suppliers of information to the Website accept no responsibility for the contents of the Website or the information or recommendations contained herein, which moreover may be changed without notice.
Robeco assumes no responsibility for ensuring, and makes no warranty, that the functioning of the Website will be uninterrupted or error-free. Robeco assumes no responsibility for the consequences of e-mail messages regarding a Robeco (transaction) service, which either cannot be received or sent, are damaged, received or sent incorrectly, or not received or sent on time.
Neither will Robeco be liable for any loss or damage that may result from access to and use of the Website.
8. Intellectual property
All copyrights, patents, intellectual and other property, and licenses regarding the information on the Website are held and obtained by Robeco. These rights will not be passed to persons accessing this information.
10. Applicable law
The Website shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of Hong Kong. All disputes arising out of or in connection with the Website shall be submitted to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of Hong Kong.