Surrey Heath Borough Council has formalised its commitment to reducing single use plastics (SUP) by signing an agreement alongside Surrey County Council and 10 Surrey boroughs and districts.
Recognising the importance of the environmental challenge posed by SUP, a multi-authority task group was set up under the Surrey Waste Partnership to focus on tackling the problem in Surrey.
The task group identified shared strategic objectives for minimising and working towards zero avoidable SUP across all 12 partner authorities, in line with government’s target of achieving zero avoidable plastic waste by the end of 2042.
SHBC’s Executive has resolved to endorse these strategic objectives for tackling the use of SUP in Surrey.
The objectives cover five key areas:
- Get our own house in order’ by ending the sale and provision of SUP products to phase out their use across our estates and operations wherever possible.
- Work with our suppliers and contractors to minimise and work towards zero avoidable SUP use (wherever possible) in their service provision.
- Support greater awareness and action from our suppliers and contractors in finding sustainable SUP replacements wherever appropriate and encourage higher recycling rates across our estates.
- Help raise awareness across Surrey.
- Enable and encourage people in Surrey to take action to reduce their SUP use.
This commitment builds on work that the Council had already undertaken to reduce the use of SUP in Council-owned buildings and services.
Camberley Theatre has been plastic-free since last year. Theatre Manager Andy Edmeads said: “Last summer, Camberley Theatre replaced all plastic disposables such as cups, beakers and straws with compostable alternatives.
“All of these items look and feel like their plastic counterparts but are fully compostable leaving no impact on the environment.
“We have received plenty of positive comments from our customers on introducing these alternative disposables and their look and feel.
“These products are also a comparable cost to businesses so no cost has been passed to our customers.”
In Community Services, water dispensers are used at the Windle Valley Centre with no plastic bottles used or sold.
The majority of the meals delivered by our Meals at Home service come in recyclable foil containers, and sandwich packaging is recyclable. Some meals currently come in a black plastic tray – this will be looked at as part of this project.
At the Council offices in Surrey Heath House, water coolers have long been in place on every floor for staff to use, with reusable cups. A water dispenser has also been installed in the Council Chamber recently, eliminating the use of bottled water in meetings.
At the Arena Leisure Centre in Camberley, operated by Places Leisure on behalf of SHBC, 100% biodegradable cups are used for drinks sold in the cafe, and customers are encouraged to use reusable cups.
At Lightwater Leisure Centre, in Lightwater Country Park, all of the café’s takeaway cups and lids are fully recyclable. The operators are switching to paper straws and will be selling reusable takeaway cups.
Churchill Catering operate within the cafes at Frimley Lodge Park and Lightwater Country Park. As part of their commitment to their environmental policy both cafes provide compostable Vegware products which include cups, lids and cutlery as part of their takeaway option.
Both cafes use local suppliers and are continuously looking at developing their offering with the environment in mind.
Surrey Heath Portfolio Holder for Environment and Health, Cllr Vivienne Chapman, said: “Plastic waste is one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world today.
“Anyone who saw the BBC’s Blue Planet programme last year cannot fail to have been affected by the footage of the impact of single-use plastics on the natural world.
“As a Council we are committed to working with our partners to help tackle this issue within our Borough and throughout Surrey as a whole.
“We had already made progress towards becoming a plastic-free Council, and signing this Surrey Waste Partnership agreement is another step on that journey.”
More information about reducing the use of single use plastic can be found at www.recycleforsurrey.org.uk/recycling/single-use-plastics.