County council steps up campaign against single-use plastics

The six acre site at Shire Hall is owned freehold by Cambridgeshire County Council. The decision to

The six acre site at Shire Hall is owned freehold by Cambridgeshire County Council. The decision to “dispose of” the Shire Hall site and relocate to Alconbury was agreed by full council. Picture: STRUTT & PARKER - Credit: Archant

The campaign against single-use plastics is being stepped up by Cambridgeshire County Council which wants to set a clear example of leadership to staff and householders.

It plans to make the county a greener and healthier place to live by acting as figurehead on the corporate use of single-use plastic and to encourage its nearly 5,000 staff to cut back on its use and to boost the reuse of material where possible before recycling it.

Plastic bottles have already been withdrawn from staff vending machines.

Cllr Anna Bailey asked the council to look at tackling avoidable waste, especially plastic, after being moved by a documentary by Sir David Attenborough about the impact the material was having on the environment, particularly the world's oceans.

A working group plan has now been signed off by the full council. It focuses on key areas that can be influenced by the authority to bring about positive change in the way that plastic is acquired, used and disposed of - both within the council, including staff as individuals, and as part of the procurement and delivery of services.

Cllr Bailey said: "There is an urgent need for new thinking to tackle waste, and the plastics strategy being put in place aims to reduce avoidable plastic waste through conditions for suppliers and contractors.

"If we can bring about positive change by raising awareness in the organisation and within local communities that single-use plastic can be eliminated when suitable alternatives are available, that is fantastic."

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Cllr Steve Count, council leader, said: "This shows that even before announcing a climate emergency in May this year, the council was already looking at ways to tackle avoidable single-use waste and responding to increased awareness of plastic pollution.

"As a large employer locally and procurer of services, we can definitely make a difference through our staff and our supply chain by encouraging new behaviours."

The guide will offer hints and tips for plastic-free lunches, with lists of outlets where people can either take their own containers to fill, or buy plastic-free lunch options to avoid adding unnecessarily to pollution.

Schools will also be provided with resources to enable them to deliver plastic-free lunch days and encouraged to download lesson plans to educate pupils and their parents.

As a waste disposal authority, the council already works closely with waste collection authorities to provide local households with sustainable options for waste management, and will continue to work in partnership to ensure that residents can make good choices about their plastic recycling.

The council has also signed the UK100 pledge, promising to deliver 100 per cent clean energy for Cambridgeshire before 2050 and now plans to collaborate with other UK100 city councils in order to both learn from them and work together to influence national policy.

A climate change and environment strategy is being developed and more information about it will be available in due course.