Sky CEO: saving the environment 'just good business'

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch speaks on stage during a Waste-To-Wealth Summit at Southwark Integrated Waste Management Facility on November 22, 2018 in London, England. Photo: Tristan Fewings - WPA Pool/Getty Images

The chief executive of Sky has said the broadcaster’s campaign to clean up the oceans is “good business” and warned companies that don’t take a stance on environmental issues risk becoming extinct.

Sky launched its Ocean Rescue Campaign in 2017, aiming to highlight the problem of plastic in the ocean and to support solutions for cleaning up the oceans.

Jeremy Darroch told the audience at the OneYoungWorld summit in London that cleaning up the ocean was a personal passion but also made sense for the business.

“Often people say what is your motivation for getting into this? I’ve got a certain set of motivations personally,” Darroch said on Wednesday. “But also if you just think about it on the business level, if we want to protect our businesses long-term, you have to act on the environment.

“I think gradually more and more businesses are understanding that it’s just good business. If you want to protect your business for the long-term, you have to take a position on this.”

Sky, which was acquired by Comcast for £30bn last year, is aiming to go single-use plastic free as an organisation by 2020 and has set up a £25m fund to support ocean cleanup ventures. Darroch told the OneYoungWorld summit how Sky has backed a business developing clothing that grows with your child to reduce consumption and another developing a natural alternative to plastic beads. Sky has also partnered with wildlife charity WWF and Swansea University to plant CO2 absorbing seagrass off the Welsh coast.

Gary Knell, Syliva Earle and Jeremy Darroch attend the National Geographic Science Festival at Auditorium Parco Della Musica on April 16, 2018 in Rome, Italy. Photo: Elisabetta Villa/Getty Images for National Geographic

Darroch called on more businesses to do more to combat climate change.

“We’ve got to mobilise public opinion,” Darroch said. “I think business has got a critical role to play. Businesses can apply leverage and get things to happen at scale almost better than anything else.”

He added that companies which don’t take a stand could see their business suffer as they are shunned by a generation of environmentally conscious consumers.

Darroch’s warning echoes Bank of England governor Mark Carney, who said earlier this year that firms that fail to adapt to climate change will “go bankrupt without question.”

READ MORE: UBS warns 'low and negative interest rates' hitting business

Throughout the world, up to 13 million tons of plastic waste were transported from land to sea every year. Image: Getty

UBS said in a recent report that changing attitudes towards plastic are already causing changes to businesses across a range of sectors.

“Companies are facing growing pressure from a combination of campaign groups, consumers and regulators to address plastic, and are already seeing impacts ranging from issuing profit warnings to investments in product or systems innovation, discontinuing of entire product lines, and positive substitution effect (higher beverage can and paper bag demand),” UBS analysts wrote.

Changing public attitudes to plastic could reduce the plastic packaging market by up to 20% in the next five years, the Swiss investment bank said. UBS estimated that 8m of tonnes of plastics are dumped in the ocean annually.