Newport declared a plastic-free community.
The fight against single-use plastics has led to Newport being named a plastic-free community.
The town has joined a network of communities across the UK who are leading the way to tackle throwaway plastic at source.
It has been awarded Plastic Free Community status by marine conservation charity, Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), in recognition of the work it has done to start reducing the impact of single-use plastic on the environment.
Sustainable Newport started the campaign for Plastic Free Newport earlier this year after members were inspired by other communities who were making a real impact on reducing the use of single use plastic in their areas.
Community lead Simone Whitfield and the rest of the Sustainable Newport team pulled together key organisations and businesses in the town to put in place a five-point plan. The objectives include setting up a community-led steering group, instigating the SAS Plastic Free Schools education programme, getting local council commitment and working with local businesses, organisations and community groups to spread the word and minimise the amount of disposable plastics they use.
Simone said: “The support from the community has been great with some really passionate people helping to spread the message and getting the community behind us. This award shows that as a town we’re serious about reducing single use and we look forward to using this status to help amplify the impact.”
“The support from our independent plastic-free businesses has been really inspirational. We’ve enjoyed finding out about and sharing what some of our local businesses are doing – from soap making and eco-friendly refills, to cafés and marketing companies all doing their bit.”
The group used a variety of tools such as launching the National Refill scheme in March, with 28 businesses signing up to refill water bottles for free and being added to the 'Refill' app.
June saw the launch of the Sustainable Newport takeaway coffee cup which operates on a deposit scheme – when customers have forgotten their own reusable coffee cup they can borrow one from participating cafes/traders at events for £1 deposit, which they get back when they return it to any of the participating cafés or the Sustainable Newport stand at events.
Following on that success the Newport Pint is being launched, which will operate on the same basis helping further reduce the environmental impact of events in the town.
Simone added: “Achieving this accreditation for Newport is a great start to reducing single-use plastic but there’s definitely more to be done – there are more groups, schools and businesses in town who we’d like to join us. Sustainable Newport is also one of the founding members of the county wide 'Shropshire Against Pointless Plastic', which has representatives from groups from across the county involved in sharing ideas and amplifying the impact. “
Telford & Wrekin Council resolved at full council on July 25 to become plastic free and is supporting more community efforts to obtain accreditation for the borough – which required 70 per cent of communities to be accredited.
Councillor Hilda Rhodes, Cabinet Member for Parks, Green Spaces and Natural Environment, said: “We would like to congratulate Newport on this recognition of their work to reduce single-use plastic in the town.
“This is a fantastic achievement and shows what the community can achieve when they work together.
“We’re delighted to be supporting the work as it extends further across the borough of Telford and Wrekin.”
Anyone interested in leading a Plastic Free Community, launching a Refill campaign or wanting a presentation on the steps involved can contact Simone on firstname.lastname@example.org