Borough set to reduce single-use plastics
In July, Telford & Wrekin Council declared a climate emergency and committed to remove single-use plastics from the Council’s operations and activities by 2023, replacing them with sustainable alternatives.
Now a report to the Council’s Cabinet on 12 September will outline the action the Council will take over the next year.
The impacts of climate change and plastic pollution are causing serious damage around the world.
Plastic pollution is having a significant impact on the environment, for example:
• 8 million pieces of plastic go into the ocean each day;
• Single-use plastic bottles account for 40% of all litter by volume;
• 1 million seabirds a year die from plastic pollution;
• 1 in 4 fish caught for human consumption now contain plastic.
These issues are compounded by the fact that 50% of plastic produced is used only once and can then remain in the environment for up to 400 years. In many cases there are practical alternatives available that are either re-usable or more sustainable.
The Council has committed to support Surfers against Sewage’s Plastic Free Communities Campaign by:
• Removing single-use plastics from the Council’s operations and activities and replacing them with sustainable alternatives, by 2023;
• Continuing to support national campaigns such as Refill;
• Developing a plan to encourage and promote plastic-free initiatives borough wide;
• Establishing a Taskforce group to help achieve our aspiration for the borough to become a certified Plastic Free Community.
The purpose of the Cabinet report is to provide an update on progress to date in reducing single-use plastic from the Council’s operations and activities and to seek approval for an action plan setting out how the Council will make further improvements over the next 12 months.
The report also seeks approval to establish a Taskforce. Through the taskforce, the Council will work in partnership with local businesses and organisations to become officially certified as a plastic free community by following a framework set out by Surfers against Sewage.
The Council has already taken steps to reduce and remove single-use plastics from its operations and activities, for example:
• The Council has supported the national Refill campaign (www.refill.org.uk) – all Council libraries across Telford and Wrekin are now official Refill stations (Wellington, Madeley, Newport, Southwater One and Oakengates) and there are five other Refill Stations within Council buildings;
• Mobile drinking water fountains were trialled at the Armed Forces Day event in June 2019;
• Balloons have been banned at all Council-run events for some time and this has now been extended to include all external organisations who want to hold events on Council-owned land;
• Single-use plastic cups and water bottles have been removed at all Council meetings;
• The Place Theatre has removed single-use plastic glasses for all events and is working with its brewery supplier to replace plastic bottles with recyclable glass and can alternatives;
• Café Go at Addenbrooke House and Telford Ice Rink have removed plastic stirrers, straws and condiment sachets;
• Café Go has replaced 2ltr semi skimmed milk plastic containers with a Pergal milk dispenser (each Pergal dispenser replaces 48 x2 litre plastic bottles);
• The Council’s Cleaning Service have stopped the use of disposable cleaning cloths (apart from during infection control);
• The Council’s My Options Service, which runs residential care settings in the borough, has stopped using a range of single-use plastic products such as cotton buds;
• The Council has incorporated single-use plastics into its Social Value Guidance used for procurement exercises.
Councillor Hilda Rhodes, Cabinet Member for Parks, Green Spaces and Natural Environment, said: “We recognise that plastic pollution and climate change are amongst the biggest challenges facing our planet and our local communities and we all have our part to play in helping to safeguard the environment for future generations.
“We are committed to working to reduce our impact on the environment and removing single-use plastics is the first step towards doing this.
“We want to lead by example and show that we are serious about this but know that it is going to take a lot of work form everyone in the borough to make a real difference. This is just the start and we’re excited to see what can be achieved.”