A purge on plastic has been declared in East Cambridgeshire, with councillors unanimously voting to cut down on single use plastic.
As the UK prepares to ban plastic straws, cotton buds and other single use plastics from next year, East Cambridgeshire District Council is hoping to take a lead in reducing waste.
Across the UK over 8 billion plastic straws are chucked away each year, while cotton buds flushed down the toilet are one of the biggest causes of marine pollution, and often end up being eaten by wildlife.
Last night ECDC agreed to endorse the government’s 25 year environmental plan.
Cllr Anna Bailey, who tabled the motion, said: “If all the plastic bottles that are not collected for recycling in the UK each year were placed end to end, they would go around the world 31 times.
“That is a huge amount of plastic which is damaging our seas and eco-systems. It is clear that wide-scale change is required across the whole of society to reduce our reliance on plastics, keep the plastics we do use in the economy for as long as possible and to keep all plastic out of our oceans and seas.”
ECDC and its trading companies plan to eliminate “unnecessary and problematic” plastic packaging within the council and ensure the rest is reusable, recyclable or compostable.
Other aims are to make recycling easier within East Cambridgeshire and encourage businesses to increase recycled content in any plastic packaging they use.
The council has pledged to “impassion and enable” residents and businesses to “play their part” in cutting down on plastic packaging waste and litter.
Cllr Bill Hunt said the purge on plastics was the “start of a great journey”, adding that council staff and members would be “relentless” in their efforts to achieve their goals.
During the debate Ely Markets was singled out for special mention in its work to tackle the problem.
The Ely Markets team has recognised changing shopping habits, with people increasingly buying smaller amounts, more flexibly, more often and has responded by introducing new mini-markets on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The team also actively encourages people to bring their own reusable shopping bags, coffee cups and containers.
Cllr Richard Hobbs said “Traders are happy to weigh fruit and veg directly into people’s own shopping bags and we are seeing more and more people arriving at Ely Markets with their own reusable coffee cup and containers.”
Since the 5p charge for plastic bags came into effect, their use has plummeted by an astonishing 90% – meaning that 9 billion fewer bags are in circulation.