Greens and local campaigners call for a ‘plastic free’ city

Greens urge Council to ‘go plastic free’ and encourage traders, residents and businesses to do the same in a bid to reduce damage plastic waste causes the environment and public health


The Green Group of Councillors and local campaigners [quoted below] are calling on the Council to take serious action on plastic waste in Brighton and Hove.

Ahead of a meeting of Full Council on 2nd November, the Green Group are urging the Council to take decisive action on single-use plastics (SUP) such as bottles, plastic cups and straws, that are used just once before being thrown away and are not widely recycled.

The Green Group are also hoping that all parties will support a call to work with residents, businesses and local traders to set up a ‘Plastic Free Network,’ that builds on the best practice of organisations in the city already phasing out the use of plastics, to support people in making the transition to more sustainable alternatives.

Over 56 venues in Brighton and Hove have signed up to the ‘Plastic Free Pledge’, a campaign to limit, or remove, many single-use plastics from their business, such as plastic straws.

Only 14 percent of plastic packaging is ever recycled or re-used and like many other Councils, Brighton and Hove only has the facilities to recycle plastic bottles. With recent studies showing that plastics are now present in samples of British tap water, and present in a third of all fish caught off the British coastline, the Greens have also raised the alarm about the role Brighton and Hove has to play in preventing plastics from entering the ocean.

Local campaigners Claire Potter and Jake Arney, co-founders of the Plastic Free Pledge, have commented on the issue. Jake said:

“Plastic straws were the first target of the Plastic Free Pledge, however we are already helping organisations to look at their single-use plastic waste in other areas. Whether it is plastic cutlery, takeaway containers or coffee cups, there are viable alternatives available. We don’t hate plastic, we hate the wasteful misuse of plastic and the damage it causes.”

Claire Potter added:

A recent report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation states that if we carry on in this throwaway nature, by 2050 there will be a greater weight of plastics in the ocean than fish. Plus we are yet to outlive a single piece of plastic – unless we have incinerated it, every piece of plastic we have ever created is still on Earth. We need to use and value plastic more highly – single use-plastic needs to be removed from our convenience lifestyles and replaced by for more sustainable alternatives, such as reusable containers instead.”

Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty, who is proposing the motion for the Green Group of Councillors, commented:

“A plastic straw – used just once before being thrown away – can take up to 600 years to degrade. This and other single-use plastics in fact break down into smaller fragments, which studies now unequivocally show are strangling the life in our seas, entering our food chain and even our water supply, affecting our health too.

“The Green Councillors are calling on our city to lead by example on this scourge of plastic waste. We want to phase out the use of these unnecessary single-use plastics in all Council buildings, including in our purchasing and supply chain, and to champion alternatives. But plastics don’t just damage the environment; the waste costs us billions a year.  

“As a coastal city we all know about the beauty of our seas. But our seas are incredibly fragile so the time for action cannot come soon enough. We are also a city full of trailblazing organisations who we can learn from, and who already have advice on how they have reduced plastic usage and waste in their own business models.

“We are hoping all of the political parties are aware of the need to take decisive action on this issue and can come with us on what is perhaps the most important environmental issue of our time.”

Proposals to reduce single-use plastics will be heard by the meeting of Brighton and Hove full Council on November 2nd.

 

Notes…

Unnecessary (i.e. excluding medical items) Single-Use Plastics (SUP) used once before disposal e.g. bottles, cups and straws, are not widely recycled. Studies from Columbia University show SUPs can take up to 600 years to degrade, breaking into fragments that cause damage to the environment and permeate the food chain. Recent studies found that 72% of U.K tap water samples were contaminated with plastic fibres, and a third of all fish caught off the British coast contained plastic.

The Plastic Free Pledge encourages organisations and individuals to reduce SUP waste https://plasticfreepledge.com/ A petition calling on the Council to issue guidelines to local businesses on plastic reduction is here: http://bit.ly/2gtwqFC and a petition calling on Government to reduce and end SUPs here: http://bit.ly/2xSFLhs

Several businesses and organisations in Brighton and Hove have already implemented plastic free alternatives, such as Brighton Catering Supplies, Silo, HisBe supermarket and The Tempest Inn.

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We are pushing for action on toxic air pollution levels in Brighton and Hove

cleaner air nom pic

Green ‘Notice of Motion’ going to Full Council this Thursday 6th April

At the meeting of Brighton and Hove City Council this Thursday, the Greens have put forward a set of proposals aiming to challenge the rising levels of air pollution in Brighton and Hove. We hope our calls to protect public health will be backed by all parties.

Brighton and Hove is one of 40 UK cities listed by the World Health Organisation as breaching safe air pollution limits. ‘Hotspots’ in the city such as Queens Road, Western Road and Rottingdean High Street regularly exceed both U.K and E.U limits for nitrogen dioxide, a toxic gas that along with other pollutants is primarily emitted by diesel vehicles and which can cause premature deaths and lung cancer.

Greens are calling on the Council to reduce the harm of emissions and protect public health by encouraging alternatives to diesel vehicle use. The proposals also call for better enforcement of regulations on engine idling, a major contributor to both noise and air pollution. The Greens are keen that the Council push for more government assistance to help taxi drivers to replace diesel cars with low-emission vehicles. Following similar initiatives rolled out in London, Greens are also pushing for differential charges to be applied to diesel vehicles parking in areas of the city badly affected by diesel fumes.

Green Councillor Lizzie Deane is keen to stress that any changes that lead to cleaner air will benefit everyone. She said:

“The rationale of this motion is entirely health related because, although air quality in the city has improved in recent years, there is still much to be done, especially in the city centre. It is now widely accepted that diesel emissions can cause serious health conditions, including asthma and lung cancer. So this is a motion that aims to benefit everyone, including motorists who, after all, are breathing the same air. In fact, recent studies have shown it is motorists who are most affected by diesel air pollution. I am particularly concerned for babies and toddlers who, by virtue of their size, are closer and more vulnerable to vehicle pollution emissions than adults.

“I do appreciate that some motorists bought diesel vehicles in good faith at a time when Government advised diesel to be a safer option. However, the only safe option is low emission vehicles, and we must do as much as we can to encourage their use. I am also aware that some of the proposals may have ramifications for the taxi trade, and am keen that existing cabbies are assisted when making upgrades to low emission vehicles.”

Studies have estimated that diesel fumes contribute to the deaths of more than 29,000 people in the UK each year and increase the likelihood of individuals contracting lung cancer almost threefold.

Green Councillors are calling on all parties to support their call for cleaner air at a meeting of Full Council this Thursday, April 6th.