Goldman Sachs ditches single-use plastic products

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs Group Inc told employees on Wednesday it will no longer carry widely used, throw-away plastic items like water bottles or silverware in its offices and cafeterias as the U.S. bank tries to cut the amount of trash it puts in landfills.

FILE PHOTO: A view of the Goldman Sachs stall on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange July 16, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Starting last week, Goldman cafeterias and vending machines globally swapped out plastic soda and water bottles for aluminium cans, glass bottles and compostable cups to be used for fountain drinks, said Cindy Quan, the bank’s head of environment, social and governance for real estate.

Throw-away plastic items have been the subject of bans by a growing number of countries and corporations because they often end up littering oceans and waterways.

In December, the European Union agreed to ban by 2021 a list of 10 single-use plastic products, like plates, straws and drink stirrers.

The operator of luxury hotel chain Peninsula Hotels, The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited, said it will stop using plastic bottles, packaging and bathroom amenities by 2020.

Quan said Goldman is banning single-use plastics because they often ended up in the company’s garbage instead of the recycling bin.

The bank has said it is trying to divert 100 percent of its business waste from landfills by 2020, and is 93 percent of the way there, Quan said.

This step will reduce the amount of single-use plastics bank employees throw away by 85 percent or to 6 tons, the bank said.

Goldman has worked with companies and groups with ties to the plastics industry.

Kevin Smith, vice president of the bank’s environmental markets group, said that the bank does not discuss matters related to specific clients.

The move away from single-use plastics, Smith said, is part of the bank’s broader environmental strategy, which includes raising capital for green energy projects and underwriting climate-related risks.

Reporting by Elizabeth Dilts; Editing by Sandra Maler