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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Are plans for recycling in Brighton and Hove simply going up in smoke?

Leo Littman, Preston Park Ward Councillor

News that cardboard meant for recycling may have instead been sent to the incinerator by the company in charge, Veolia, is scandalous if true.  Residents in this city pay the Council a considerable amount every month to have their refuse collected, and many residents spend time sorting their rubbish to ensure as much of it as possible is recycled. If they now learn that the people they rely on to process that recycling are simply burning it because they don’t have the staff needed to do the job properly, they are entitled to be furious.  Both Veolia and the Council need to be open about what is going on – the Council’s statement, which placidly accepts Veolia’s ‘assurances’, will put no-one’s mind at rest.

Local Labour are once again failing to get even the basics right.  The city is becoming dirty and run down and recycling rates are still in the doldrums. Let’s not forget: it was Labour who landed the city with this regressive 25-year waste PFI (Private Finance Initiative) deal in the first place, a deal which pays us not to recycle effectively, or even to reduce our waste. The Tories then extended the agony for another five years. Neither Party can be trusted on this issue. If the investigation finds a breach of contract has occurred, the Labour group must commit to serious review of the terms of the contract.
Residents deserve better.

Original article on the claims that cardboard recycling in Brighton and Hove is being incinerated available here: http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/15522573.Cardboard_collected_for_recycling_is_being_incinerated_claims_whistleblower/