Reducing plastic waste motions + a letter to retailers

Reducing plastic waste motion from Bury Lib Dems

This Council notes with concern:

  • That 300 million tons of new plastic is made each year, half of which is for single use plastic such as packaging and convenience foods. In many cases, such as plastic straws, takeaway food containers and coffee cups, there are practical alternatives available that are either reusable or sustainable.
  • That in 2016, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimated that by weight, there could be more plastic in our oceans than fish, as soon as 2050. As plastics are durable and strong they will stay in our environment for up to an estimated 600 years. (Columbia University)
  • That marine plastic leads to coastal / offshore dead zones, entanglement, death through ingestion, toxic transfer and, once degraded into micro plastics, contamination of the food chain – including our own. We are quite literally eating the plastic that has ended up in our seas.

Council welcomes:

  • The significant increase in recycling achieved in the Borough in the last decade, through improvements to doorstep recycling.
  • Policy adopted in 2017 in support of Deposit Return Schemes, and the significant reduction in plastic waste that such schemes could achieve.
  • The success of the ‘Plastic Bag Levy’, introduced by the 2010-15 Coalition Government, which has led to an 85% reduction in disposable plastic bag usage.

This Council therefore commits that Bury will play its full role in helping to reduce plastic waste, specifically:

  • That the Council will undertake an audit, within existing resources, of single use plastics used by the Authority seek to replace with sustainable or reusable alternatives where practicable.
  • That the Council will play its role in helping to educate members of the public about plastic waste, specifically by including information for members of the public on reducing plastic waste in both online and written materials.
  • That the Council will use its membership of the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal and Combined Authorities to work towards increasing the amount of plastic product that can be recycled through doorstep and other recycling.
  • To write to both our members of Parliament and the European Parliament, and to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, urging them to consider legislation and regulations which will reduce the amount of single use plastic used by society.
  • To use the links we have with businesses in Bury to encourage them to reduce the amount of plastic waste produced and specifically to write to each of our major supermarkets asking them to consider introducing a ‘plastic free aisle’ in their Bury store(s) on a trial basis.

Lib Dem Motion to be put to South Lakeland District Council

This council will become a single use plastic free council by phasing out the use of single use plastic products such as bottles, cups, cutlery and drinking straws in council activities, where it is reasonable to do so, by the end of 2018 and to encourage our facilities’ users local businesses and other local public agencies do the same by championing alternatives, such as reusable water bottles.

Lib Dem South Lakeland will also:

  • Be promoting the refill scheme, whereby retail businesses agree to free water refills. The app that allows businesses to sign up is really easy.
  • Have a free water fountain in our reception area and look to have them all around the area.
  • Investigate having locally branded water containers for sale.

 

Letter on plastic use in Lewes

(NB: This letter was sent to large local retailers. A slightly different version was sent to smaller shops.)

We are writing to you from the local Liberal Democrats to encourage businesses to take steps to reduce plastic waste in our town. We have been working at the Town and District Council to reduce the presence of single use plastic, improve recycling, and encourage re-usable packaging such as re-usable coffee cups; and we are founder members of the “Plastic Free Lewes” initiative.

As you may know, plastic waste is a global phenomenon. Recent film and television documentaries such as ‘Blue Planet II’ and ‘Plastic Ocean’ have shone a spotlight on this problem, which poisons our oceans and blights our landscapes. In Britain, it is estimated that over 2.5 billion cups are thrown away every year and wider plastics are known to break down into micro-plastics that enter the ecosystem and cause major damage to our food chain.

The Liberal Democrats have been leading the awareness-raising on this issue nationally and were responsible for the introduction of the 5p charge on plastic bags while in government, which has slashed usage in England by over 80%. The Liberal Democrats have been campaigning for a charge on coffee cups since September 2016, and were the only party to include the policy in their 2017 Manifesto. But we also believe that you as one of the town’s biggest retailers will want to show your customers how you are taking action yourself, rather than waiting for national legislation. We are writing to suggest a few specific actions you can take which would make a significant difference:

  1. Ensure you offer a discount for customers who provide their own reusable coffee cups
  2. Use biodegradable packaging whenever possible
  3. Improve your recycling facilities and introduce specific recycling for cups, cans and plastic bottles to ensure that customers are able to dispose of their items easily and sustainably
  4. Call on your organisation to pledge to further reduce the presence of single use plastics in your shops, and introduce ‘plastic free’ products (such as aisles of loose vegetables) by August 2018
  5. Feature specific notices and posters to show the efforts you are taking to deliver a ‘plastic free’ future

We look forward to hearing from you and would be glad to arrange a meeting to discuss your approach in Lewes.

With very best wishes,

District Councillor, Vic Ient, and Town Campaigner, Oli Henman

Lewes Liberal Democrats

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