Bishop's Castle named first 'plastic free community' in Shropshire
One town's fight against single-use plastics has seen it be named the first 'plastic free community' in Shropshire.
Bishop's Castle has been awarded the accreditation under the national Surfers Against Sewage scheme after 18 months of work by the town's Fight the Plastic group.
The campaign has seen residents, businesses and community organisations rally in support by ditching throw-away items in favour of re-usable alternatives.
It does not mean the town is entirely plastic free, but "free-er", according to campaign co-ordinator Dave Luckhurst.
"Bishop’s Castle is a unique, strong, supportive community with a lot of good people working on the problems we face today," said Mr Luckhurst.
"We cannot get rid of all plastics and there’s still more to do to reduce the use of SUPs in the town, but, even if it’s one small step for the planet, we have made one giant leap forward for Bishop’s Castle.
"So many traders, events organisers, pub landlords and councillors have been supportive of the aims and will carry on searching for alternatives to SUPs.
"Some started years ago, a few have yet to start, but the public have shown that they want to see change."
Shoppers' surveys carried out last year saw between 85 and 98 per cent of respondents express support for plastic-free sections and loose fruit and veg in supermarkets, a deposit return scheme, and scrapping plastic straws and take-away containers.
More than a dozen traders have either eliminated single-use plastics or plan to do so, including Happy Bap, The Chai Shop, The New Deli and Thyme cafe, and there are now 16 water refill points around the town.
The town council has banned SUPs from its premises, and walking groups, arts groups, the Michaelmas Fair, Party in the Park and other community organisations are all working to reduce their environmental impact and use of SUPs.
But Mr Luckhurst said there was more to be done, including lobbying Co-op to reduce the amount of plastic packaging it produces, a cause which he said the town's store staff were "hugely supportive" of.
The Fight the Plastic group has started a new, monthly, pop-up shop at the farmers market in the Town Hall, are offering advice, alternatives to plastic in a range of household goods and providing an additional outlet for local trader’s non-plastic goods. The next is on August 17.
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