united kingdomen
Turning tides on plastics

Turning tides on plastics

03-03-2019 | Column

Guest post by Natalie Fee, Founder, City to Sea

We’ve all seen the pictures – beaches strewn with more plastic than seaweed, marine wildlife entangled in discarded fishing nets and seabirds with bellies full of bottle tops, cigarette lighters and toothbrushes. And with twelve million tonnes of plastic washing into our oceans every year, the equivalent of 16 shopping bags full of plastic for every metre of coastline, these devastating images have served as a much-needed wake-up call.

Plastic pollution spun out of control while most of us were still slinging straws in our cocktails, unaware of the effect our actions were having on the oceans. But for many, including myself, the photos and footage of marine wildlife shared on social media became a powerful catalyst for change.

In 2015 I founded my organisation, City to Sea, with the intention of changing behaviour. I wanted people to change their relationship to single-use plastic and use a lot less of it, I wanted supermarkets and retailers to help consumers do that by reducing plastic packaging and I wanted government to make that easier by introducing legislation.

But even now, three years on and with a suite of award-winning campaigns under our belt, change is still piecemeal. Despite plastic pollution still holding strong in the headlines, and ‘single-use’ being named Collins Dictionary’s word of the year for 2018, businesses and governments aren’t responding with the same sense of urgency held by individuals; a recent survey showed 85% of the British public wanted big businesses and governments to take drastic action on plastic pollution, now.

Thankfully there’s another route to effecting change – through the investment community. Investors need to be aware of risk factors and as such, recognise environmental issues (like the irrevocable damage of Earth’s ecosystems) as a threat to the value of their assets.

Investors hold a lot of power to influence. By working with an asset manager like Robeco, where the values are aligned and there is a commitment to engage with some of the largest plastic producing companies, we can ensure our message is heard where the biggest changes need to happen. And because Robeco is part of the Plastic Solutions Investor Alliance, they add their voice alongside the voices of 25 other investors, meaning between then they represent $1 trillion dollars. That’s a lot of clout. Together they’ve pledged to interact with leading companies to find solutions through new corporate commitments, programs, and policies.

It’s for this reason we’re delighted to develop a partnership with Robeco as our sustainability investing partner. With Robeco’s help we can do more to make sure fewer bits of plastic end up choking our oceans. We can do more to make sure broken-down plastic isn’t entering our food chain. And we can do more to make sure the devastating images we’ve all got used to seeing become a reminder of the past, not a sign of the future.

Stay informed on our latest insights with monthly mail updates
Stay informed on our latest insights with monthly mail updates


Please read this important information before proceeding further. It contains legal and regulatory notices relevant to the information contained on this website.

The information contained in the Website is NOT FOR RETAIL CLIENTS - The information contained in the Website is solely intended for professional investors, defined as investors which (1) qualify as professional clients within the meaning of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID), (2) have requested to be treated as professional clients within the meaning of the MiFID or (3) are authorized to receive such information under any other applicable laws. The value of the investments may fluctuate. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investors may not get back the amount originally invested. Neither Robeco Institutional Asset Management B.V. nor any of its affiliates guarantees the performance or the future returns of any investments. If the currency in which the past performance is displayed differs from the currency of the country in which you reside, then you should be aware that due to exchange rate fluctuations the performance shown may increase or decrease if converted into your local currency.

In the UK, Robeco Institutional Asset Management B.V. (“ROBECO”) only markets its funds to institutional clients and professional investors. Private investors seeking information about ROBECO should visit our corporate website www.robeco.com or contact their financial adviser. ROBECO will not be liable for any damages or losses suffered by private investors accessing these areas.

In the UK, ROBECO Funds has marketing approval for the funds listed on this website, all of which are UCITS funds. ROBECO is authorized by the AFM and subject to limited regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority. Details about the extent of our regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority are available from us on request.

Many of the protections provided by the United Kingdom regulatory framework may not apply to investments in ROBECO Funds, including access to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and the Financial Ombudsman Service. No representation, warranty or undertaking is given as to the accuracy or completeness of the information on this website.

If you are not an institutional client or professional investor you should therefore not proceed. By proceeding please note that we will be treating you as a professional client for regulatory purposes and you agree to be bound by our terms and conditions.

If you do not accept these terms and conditions, as well as the terms of use of the website, please do not continue to use or access any pages on this website.

I Disagree