Single use plastics
Plastics make a significant contribution to almost every aspect of modern society. In 1950, the world’s population produced 1.5 million tons of plastic; half a century on and we now produce over 320 million tons of plastic. If we continue living the way we do, this figure is set to double by 2034! (Source: Plastic Pollution – Facts and Figures, Surfers Against Sewage)
The negative environmental effects of plastics, particularly upon marine species and habitats, have been well documented on TV programmes such the BBC’s Blue Planet II documentary series.
According to HM Treasury, single use plastics can be defined as all products that are made wholly or partly of plastic and are typically intended to be used only once and/or for a short period of time before being disposed.
Single use plastic is not only expensive to produce but it uses up valuable natural resources in its production and transportation and creates mountains of waste. According to the latest figures from recyclenow.com, here in the UK an estimated 11,000 plastic bottles a minute are either ending up in landfill or as litter, which will too often make its way into waterways and out to sea.
Reducing the demand for plastic and the number of single use plastics in circulation, while continuing to improve our recycling rates, is high on the agenda for Woking Borough Council.
Single use plastics policy
Building on a pledge made in March 2018, as part of WWF-UK’s Earth Hour, Woking Borough Council adopted its single use plastics policy in July 2019, demonstrating its commitment to reduce its use of avoidable single use plastics.
The policy forms part of the Council’s Woking 2050 strategy document, which sets out a roadmap of key action points to creating a sustainable borough, whilst reducing our collective impact on the environment.
Since its pledge to WWF’s Earth Hour 2018 the Council has:
- Removed plastic water bottles from Council meetings saving approximately 720 bottles a year.
- Launched Refill Woking in Woking town centre with the help of Woking Shopping and City to Sea, at the end of September 2018. There is now a network of over 30 participating cafes and restaurants where members of the public can refill their plastic bottles with free tap water. In September 2019 a similar scheme was launched in West Byfleet with five participating retailers. Look out for the refill logo or try using the refill app to find your nearest location. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org if you are a retailer that would like to get involved.
- Introduced segregated waste bins across the Council offices to help improve recycling rates.
- Continued to provide residents with a kerbside recycling service to enable them to recycle plastic bottles, pots, tubs and trays. Cartons and cups can be recycled at recycling sites located at supermarket car parks in Brookwood, Goldsworth Park, Woking Town Centre and West Byfleet.
What other initiatives are going on in Woking to reduce single Use plastics?
Reducing Single Use Plastics in Market Walk
ThamesWey, an energy and environmental services company owned by Woking Borough Council, has been working with the Market Walk stall holders to introduce a new scheme to help reduce the number of single use plastic takeaway containers being used in Woking Town Centre.
A number of the retailers are offering discounts to customers who bring their own containers for takeaway food and drink. Bacareto, Bep Viet, Shin’s and Taylor’s Coffee House along Market Walk and Flying Pan on Christchurch Way are among those taking part.
To celebrate the launch of this project, ThamesWey has donated 500 sustainable lunch boxes made of bamboo and wheat fibre for Woking Town Centre employers to distribute to their staff to encourage plastic free lunchtimes. In exchange for the lunchboxes, employees are asked to contribute to Woking Foodbank.
Plastic Free Woking
Inspired by Plastic Free Communities, a campaign by Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) to free communities from single use plastics, local environmental group Woking Environment Action (WeAct), is working to establish Woking as a Plastic Free Community
The campaign has a number of requirements to fulfil Plastic Free status and WeAct proactively working with local businesses to spread the plastic-free message and give advice on how to make changes in their own premises.
If you’d like to find out more about the project click here.
Seven top tips for reducing single use plastics at home
You can also do your bit to reduce single use plastics at home:
- Stop using plastic straws. Paper or reusable metal straws are great sustainable alternatives.
- Take your own reusable drinks bottle or coffee cup with you wherever you go. You can even refill it at participating Refill Woking retailers. Many coffee houses offer discounts too if you bring your own reusable cup.
- Remember your reusable shopping bags to help cut down the number of plastic bags.
- Avoid excess plastic food packaging. When you’re shopping consider buying loose fruit and veg instead.
- Avoid disposable plastic cutlery. If you grab lunch on the go, consider keeping cutlery with you or at your desk at work.
- Welcome back the milkman! Milk deliveries use glass bottles which are collected and reused.
- Refill stations. More and more places offer refills of homecare products or foodstuffs such as cereals and pasta. Check out local companies Bare + Fair and Refill and Refuel and download the Zero Waste Home app that gives information on local refill stations.