New research released today by the City of London Corporation shows the current generation of young people entering the workforce are more environmentally conscious than the millennials who preceded them. What’s more, they’re expecting their employers to step up and take action to protect the environment.

The first businesses to sign up to the Plastic Free City pledge are the City Corporation itself, including its world-famous Barbican Centre, and the Bank of England, along with financial services group Nomura and banking and asset management group Investec. The pledge is wide-ranging, from stopping the use of plastic straws, cups or cutlery to registering as a water refill site.

The survey, conducted by Censuswide, compared the attitudes of 1,000 of the first members of generation Z to enter the workforce (18-22 year olds) with 1,000 of the first millennials (33-37 year olds) and found a considerable shift in attitudes across the generations:

  • 80% of generation Z ranked tackling single use plastics as important or very important for employers, ahead of reducing electricity consumption and water consumption and reducing greenhouse gases
  • 37% of generation Z would consider a potential employer’s environmental responsibility when looking for a job, compared with 19% of millennials when they applied for their first job
  • Environmental responsibility is now in the top three considerations when it comes to employers’ corporate social responsibility for generation Z and millennials alike (36%), along with the gender pay gap (38%) and diversity policy (30%)
  • Respondents with degrees were considerably more likely to rank environmental responsibility highly (41%) compared with those who completed their education at GCSE level (25%) or A levels (38%)
  • 43% said they would be shocked if their employer continued to use single use plastics in the workplace

The first two of these were unveiled this week in the City’s new public space in Aldgate Square. Continuing green initiatives are running with great success in the City of London, with four million coffee cups being recycled under the Square Mile Challenge, launched last April.

Catherine McGuinness, Policy Chairman at the City of London Corporation, said: We know there is a real desire amongst City firms to take on environmental challenges and this research shows that this will increasingly be expected by employees.  From banks and law firms to coffee shops and restaurants, there is a commitment to deliver change to reduce our environmental impact.  We want to harness this drive and motivation and not only strive to lead by example, but also to provide the tools and advice for businesses to take those necessary steps to reduce single use plastics.

“We appreciate that for many this is a journey and not something that can be done immediately.  That’s why we’ve established three levels of pledge that businesses can sign up to.  Over the next 12 months, we want to work with these firms to see a clear shift away from the use of single plastic and towards more long-term, environmentally friendly solutions.”

Jo Place, Chief Operating Officer at the Bank of England said: “We’re very excited to be a launch partner of the City of London Corporation’s Plastic Free City initiative and would encourage other organisations to use this framework to consider their own environmental impact. The smallest changes can make a big difference and we all have a part to play in reducing waste in the City.”