County Council unwraps new strategy to reduce plastic waste

Posted on: 5 June 2018

Devon County Council has pledged to phase out its use of the most polluting single-use plastic products within two years.

The move is part of a new action plan the Council has developed to help cut the amount of single-use plastic waste in Devon.

The ‘Plastics Strategy’ outlines how various single-use plastic food and beverage packaging and tableware (such as cutlery and cups) will be removed from Council work locations by 2020.

It also summarises how the Council will use its position and responsibility to raise awareness of the issues surrounding single-use plastics and encourage and support collective action across the county.

Announcing the news on UN World Environment Day (Tuesday 5 June), Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environmental Services, said:

Cllr Roger Croad

“The UN’s World Environment Day theme this year is beating plastic pollution, so I am pleased to share our new strategy for helping reduce plastic waste in Devon.

“The problem of marine waste washing up on beaches is growing worldwide. The UK has seen a 140% rise since 1994, with around 5,000 items of plastic pollution now found per mile of beach.

“Our county boasts over 500 miles of beautiful coastline and we must do all we can to help protect it.

“As an employer we are committed to carefully managing our impact on the environment, and are constantly working to improve our environmental performance.

“We have been working hard to reduce the use of plastic in our workplaces, for example removing plastic cups and replacing bottled water with plumbed-in filtration systems. We also make sure that our staff have good access to recycling facilities, and are pleased that as a result around 80% of waste from our County Hall and Great Moor House offices is recycled.

“This new strategy will build on our efforts and focus attention on the consumption and disposal of single-use food and beverage packaging and tableware. This type of waste is most prominent in marine litter and discouraging its use will greatly reduce the amount of plastics in the environment.”

The strategy, which is the first of its kind for a county council has received support from marine conservation charity Surfers Against Sewage ‘Plastic Free Coastlines’ campaign.

James Harvey, Surfers Against Sewage Campaign Officer, said:

“This is fantastic news for the environment and sends a great message of support to communities, businesses, schools and community groups across the county who are working hard to reduce or eliminate avoidable single-use plastics.

“County councils are in a unique position to lead change on plastic pollution, as shown by the level of vision and ambition contained in the plastics strategy being unveiled today.

“We hope other councils will be inspired to emulate Devon County Council’s strategic approach because plastic pollution is no longer just a litter issue that we can pick our way out of. It’s a system-wide pollution issue that requires bold, unified action such as this.”

With 12 objectives across four themes the strategy and action plan covers everything from changes within the organisation to working with suppliers and contractors to minimise the consumption of single-use plastics. It also sets out how the Council will use its network of relationships and various partnerships to engage people in the issues surrounding single-use plastics and encourage communities to act to reduce waste.

As part of the plan the Council will become a member of the Plastic Pollution Coalition  – the organisation which represents all the environmental bodies promoting going plastic free.

The ‘Plastics Strategy’ will be considered by Devon County Council Council’s Cabinet on Wednesday 13 June. A copy of the strategy, along with the action plan, is available on the Council’s website. Watch the Cabinet meeting live online here.

2 comments on “County Council unwraps new strategy to reduce plastic waste

  1. Liz Jarrett says:

    Then why, I wonder has Norse has the short sightedness to install not one, but TWO new fridges in the cafe at Great Moor House specifically designed for single use plastic display. Customers are also no longer given the choice of aluminium cans, which not only are less environmentally damaging but were sold at a much cheaper price per 100ml. Suffice to say I now drink tap water at lunch. When questioned, we were given the message from ‘management’ “they’re recyclable!” Well, sadly we know not everyone is responsible enough to be trusted, we just need to walk along our beaches and verges to see that! I hope I don’t have to wait two years to see such quick measures like these reversed!

    • Hi, thanks for your comment. We’ve checked, and Norse haven’t installed two new fridges in the café at Great Moor House. One small bottle fridge has moved over from Taw View (Barnstaple) because it wasn’t being used, rather than dispose of it – but no new fridges have been bought. Interesting point about aluminium cans – generally consumer preference is for resealable, screw top bottles, which are only available in plastic; also, while aluminium degrades in the environment, unlike plastic, its environmental impacts arising from extraction and manufacture are much greater……so it’s difficult to determine which is better overall for environment. I’m sure people will have their own views. Plastic bottles are recyclable through the workplace mixed-plastic recycling bins (at GMH) and we’ll be raising awareness with staff about the importance of using them. Thanks.

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