25 more leaders to give talks for the Great British Plastics Challenge

19 October 2018

More Leading Figures Commit To Speaking In Schools As Part Of The Great British Plastics Challenge


As a part of Green Great Britain Week, which is promoting clean growth and building the UK’s clean future together, the education charity Speakers for Schools is working with leaders and expert figures to engage young people on the issue of plastics waste, it’s impact on the environment and how they can help to tackle the problem. Supported by the Environment Agency, the Great British Plastics Challenge will see 25 more CEO’s and leading figures from top organisations visit secondary schools to energise school students to commit to doing something to end the scourge of plastic waste.

Speakers including John Vincent, Co-Founder and CEO, LEON Restaurants; Stephanie Hilborne OBE, Chief Executive, The Wildlife Trusts; Ewan Venters, CEO, Fortnum and Mason and Hugo Tagholm, Chief Executive, Surfers Against Sewage to name a few, will discuss their efforts to reduce plastic waste and ask young people to commit to the Great British Plastics Challenge by pledging to one (or more!) of the following:


  • Ditching ‘the big four’: giving up single-use plastics for 2 months (straws, bottles, coffee cups and bags)
  • Taking part in a community event: join a local tidy up via charity partners
  • Influencing a local business: ask a local business to stop using one use plastics


The Great British Plastics Challenge, is a collaborative national campaign which launched on World Ocean’s Day 2018 with the support of Business in the Community (BITC) and the Environment Agency.


Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, said: “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is estimated to contain about 80,000 tonnes of plastic, but plastic pollution isn’t just over there, it’s everywhere. Around our own coast and in rivers. The Great British Plastics Challenge has brought some amazing speakers to over 3,800 students who have pledged to give up straws, plastic bottles and single-use coffee cups. The Environment Agency is proud to be a partner.”


John Vincent, Co-Founder and CEO, LEON Restaurants, said: “Each generation faces a defining challenge. Ours is the well-being of this precious planet. Not long ago, plastic was a miracle invention that solved many of our problems. Now too much plastic waste is choking our oceans, with devastating effects.

It will take leaders of all kinds and all ages to meet this challenge. That is why I am delighted to support the Great British Plastics Challenge.”


Ashley Hodges, Chief Executive, Speakers for Schools said: “It’s a privilege to help state school students access these important conversations with leaders about their future and what’s happening in society, especially on a topic as critical as plastics pollution. Our charity has been delighted to see so many figures join us in giving their time to talk about their commitment to solving this problem and share insights from their sector. It has created a tremendous response from students who are putting their questions of innovation, consumer habits, policy and responsibility to leaders and sparking inspiring exchanges about what can be done to tackle the plastics issue. We look forward to even more being inspired to take part in the Great British Plastics Challenge and hope it can be the starting point for change.”


Judith Batchelar, Director of Brand at Sainsbury’s, who spoke as part of the campaign last term said: “It was a pleasure to speak to young people at Blessed Hugh Faringdon Catholic School as part of the Great British Plastics Challenge, discussing the environment, sustainability and how they can get involved in the national plastics challenge was a real delight. The campaign is a great opportunity for leaders of today to commit to the future of the next generation!”



Notes to Editors

Speakers supporting the second wave of the campaign and talk series include:


  • Professor Ian Boyd FRSB, FRSE, Chief Scientific Adviser, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Susan Davy, Chief Financial Officer, Pennon Group
  • Natalie Fee, Director, City to Sea
  • Marcus Gover, CEO, WRAP
  • Adrian Griffiths, CEO, Recycling Technologies
  • Stephanie Hilborne OBE, Chief Executive, The Wildlife Trusts
  • Julie Hill, Chair, WRAP
  • Emma Howard-Boyd, Chair, Environment Agency
  • Kevin Hurst, Chief Operating Officer, Veolia
  • Jon Khoo, Innovation Partner, Interface
  • Mel Karam, Chief Executive Officer, Bristol Water
  • Ian McAulay, Chief Executive Officer, Southern Water
  • Elliott Moss, Partner and Director of Business Development, Mischon de Reya
  • Heidi Mottram, CEO, Northumbrian Water
  • Trewin Restorick, Founder and CEO, Hubbub
  • Colin Skellett OBE, Group Chief Executive, Wessex Water
  • Tristram Stuart, Founder of Feedback Global & Toast Ale
  • Hugo Tagholm, Chief Executive, Surfers Against Sewage
  • Dr Rhian-Mari Thomas, Global Head of Green Banking, Barclays
  • Solitaire Townsend, Author and Co-Founder of Futerra
  • Ewan Venters, CEO, Fortnum and Mason
  • John Vincent, Co-Founder and CEO of LEON Restaurants
  • Pauline Walsh, Chief Executive Officer, Affinity Water


A full list of speakers can be seen here.


About Speakers for Schools

Speakers for Schools is a UK charity launched in 2011 helping state schools inspire their students and broaden horizon we through access to the insights, experiences and expertise of today’s leading figures through free talks and more – free of charge. Speakers for Schools was founded by Robert Peston and has facilitated over 5,200 free school talks to date, reaching over 600,000 young people across the UK. Chaired by Andrew Law with a board of trustees, it is wholly funded by the Law Family Charitable Foundation.


In 2018, the charity launched S4SNextGen, its portal connecting state schools with speakers’ esteemed companies to offer work experience and related placements to those students who need it the most: S4SNextGen.org. We now have hundreds of placements opening up with top employers for invaluable student workplace experiences.


Visit www.speakers4schools.org to find out more about how you can get involved today.


About the Environment Agency

For more information, please visit: www.gov.uk/government/organisations/environment-agency


About Business in the Community

Business in the Community, part of the Prince’s Responsible Business Network, is a business-led membership organisation made up of progressive businesses of all sizes who understand that the prosperity of business and society are mutually dependent. We exist to build healthy communities with successful businesses at their heart.


We use our Responsible Business Map to guide members on a journey of continuous improvement, working across the whole responsible business agenda. From community engagement to employment, diversity and the circular economy, we offer expert advice and specialist resources, driving best practice by convening, sharing learning and recognising great performance across our influential network. www.bitc.org.uk