A policy that sets out Woking Borough Council’s commitment to reducing its use of avoidable Single Use Plastics was adopted during last week's Council meeting (Thursday 25 July 2019).
And in a move of cross-party solidarity, all sides of the Chamber united in declaring a climate emergency in recognition of the catastrophe facing our environment.
Building on a pledge made in March 2018, as part of WWF-UK’s Earth Hour, the policy identifies a series of key actions that aim to reduce the use of single use plastics principally through the identification and reduction of avoidable single use plastics across the Council’s operations and the promotion of schemes that enable residents, visitors and local businesses to reduce their use of these plastics.
Cllr Kevin Davis, Woking Borough Council’s Portfolio Holder for Environment, said: “Thanks to increasing media coverage, it’s safe to say that we are all fully aware of the threat that plastic waste poses to our environment. In the UK alone, it is estimated that 11,000 plastic bottles a minute either end up in landfill or as litter, too often ending up in our waterways and eventually the sea.
“Our council has a proud record in addressing climate change and its associated causes. Whether it was establishing environmental group, Local Action 21, or pioneering the use of solar energy, our council has led the way.
“Since March 2018, when we pledged to reduce our use of single use plastics as part of WWF-UK’s Earth Hour, we have achieved much. Yet there is more that we, our partners and our residents, can do.
“By declaring a climate emergency and introducing this policy, we can make sure our borough plays its part in protecting our environment for future generations.”
Now adopted, the policy will form part of the Council’s visionary Woking 2050 strategy document, which sets out a roadmap to creating a sustainable borough, whilst reducing our collective impact on the environment.
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.
For more information about what Woking Borough Council is doing to reduce its impact on climate change, please visit www.woking.gov.uk/nature-and-sustainability/climate-change-0
What are the key action points from the Council’s Single Use Plastics (SUP) policy?
- Continue to identify how the Council can reduce avoidable SUP across its operations and estate.
- Raise awareness amongst staff and partners about SUP to increase recycling rates across the Council’s estate.
- Continue to work closely with Surrey Waste Partnership authorities to deliver on joint actions that tackle SUP waste.
- Promote awareness of schemes that enable Borough residents, visitors and local businesses to reduce SUP.
- End the sale and provision of SUP products across the Council’s estate (for example in vending machines and community centres).
- Support local initiatives that strive to address SUP avoidance in Woking Borough.
- Ensure that the Council’s procurement policy and procedures require all of our suppliers to reduce and work towards zero avoidable SUP use wherever possible. This may involve assisting in identifying suitable alternative products.
- Ensure Council-run public events seek to reduce and work towards zero avoidable SUP use and provision where possible.
- Share good practice and raise awareness around SUP avoidance and replacements.
Since March 2018, what has the Council achieved?
- Removed plastic water bottles from Council meetings saving approximately 720 bottles a year.
- Launched Refill Woking in Woking Town Centre at the end of September 2018. With the help of Woking Shopping, there are now 22 participating cafes and restaurants where members of the public can refill their plastic bottles with free tap water.
- 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?
In addition to what Woking Borough Council is doing, Thameswey are working with traders in Market Walk to provide alternatives to single use plastic food containers and cutlery; community group, Woking Local Action 21’s Plastic Free Woking project, aims to raise awareness of the importance of reducing plastic waste; whilst two local businesses, Bare and Fair and Refill and Refuel, sells refillable household products and dry foods.