Council's plastic free efforts frustrated by pandemic

Efforts to go plastic-free in Telford and Wrekin have been “frustrated” by the pandemic, but senior figures are confident of reaching the 2023 target.

LAST COPYRIGHT SHROPSHRIE STAR JAMIE RICKETTS 06-Jan-16..Addenbrooke House - Telford & Wrekin Council - Telford Council - Telford, Shropshire.
LAST COPYRIGHT SHROPSHRIE STAR JAMIE RICKETTS 06-Jan-16..Addenbrooke House - Telford & Wrekin Council - Telford Council - Telford, Shropshire.

In 2019, councillors voted to remove single-use plastics from the authority premises and activities within four years and establish a group aimed at making the borough a certified “Plastic-Free Community”.

Community Services Group Manager Louise Stanway said Covid-19 measures had made this “challenge”.

For example, she said, the use of sanitising wipes has increased, but they sometimes contain plastic.

Councillor Carolyn Healy, the cabinet member responsible for the natural environment, added that general-waste bins – previously removed from council offices to encourage use of communal recycling points – had to be reinstated for hygiene purposes, but said the campaign continued and she was “encouraged” by progress elsewhere.

Ms Stanway said: “The council, first of all, has made a commitment to remove all single-use plastics from its operations and activities, replacing them with sustainable alternatives, but 2023.

“Alongside that we have also established a plastic-free task force, which the council is part of; a partnership consisting of educational establishments, local businesses, community groups and town councils, all working together to achieve Plastic-Free Community status across the borough.

“It’s fair to say last year proved challenging due to Covid.

“We couldn’t hold any community events. Meetings took place, when they could, online, but unfortunately it did mean a number of things had to be put on hold.

“As we returned into the working environment, we were having to follow guidelines, making sure we used sanitising wipes and so on. It meant some of the practices we put in place originally also had to stop, but we are doing all we can to get things moving forward again.”

She added that four town councils in the Telford and Wrekin area – Great Dawley, Madeley, Oakengates, Wellington – had signed up to achieve plastic-free status themselves, and the remaining one, Newport Town Council, already had it.

Ms Stanway said activities had begun again, including a “spring clean” held across Dawley, Ironbridge, Madeley, Oakengates, Wellington and Woodside, where participants were asked to separate out the litter they collected into general waste and plastic recyclables. The borough’s 1,100 Street Champions are also being issued with new dedicated plastic waste bags, she added.

Councillor Healy said: “In some areas, particularly in terms of the council’s operation, it’s been frustrating that they haven’t been able to progress as much as we’d like.

“All of that has been a bit frustrating.

“But I am pleased the task force has continued to meet, albeit virtually, and that things are progressing, particularly in our borough towns. That’s really encouraging.”

“Plastic-Free Community” status is awarded by marine conservation charity Surfers Against Sewage and is recognises anti-waste events, campaigning and organisation in accredited areas.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News