Warwick and Leamington leading the way in tackling plastics

Graham Folkes-Skinner (Warwick District Council), Jo Lally and Jane and Jesse Berridge (From Aviary Cafe).

Warwick and Leamington have been awarded ‘Plastic Free Community’ Status for leading the way in efforts to tackle the use of single-use plastics.

The district has become the 100th location in the UK to receive the award from the marine conservation charity, Surfers Against Sewage (SAS).

Local volunteer leads, Jo Lally and Sarah Kenny-Levick started the campaign in Jan 2018 having been inspired by the work in Penzance (the UK’s first plastic free community), increasingly saddened by the amount of unnecessary single use plastic waste in the community and wanting to make more of an impact than in their households alone.

Registering with the SAS Plastic Free Communities movement, the team pulled together key organisations and businesses in the town to put in place a five-point plan.

Their plan includes 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.

Jo and Sarah said: “We are so grateful to the businesses who have supported us so far. Over 30 across our community have eradicated at least three items of single-use plastic, in many cases much more, which has taken hundreds of thousands of pieces of waste out of our system that would have otherwise been on our planet forever, thank you.”

Warwick District Council has played a key part in the group’s efforts, eliminated 10 different types of plastic from its buildings including plastic bottles, straws and stirrers.

In addition, plastic recycling for crisps and stationery items has been introduced as well as a plastics register and plastics policy requirements for new tender contracts and events.

Cllr Judy Falp, portfolio holder for health and community protection, said: “The achievement of Plastic Free Community Status is great news, however there is still a great deal of work to do and we will continue to work in partnership with businesses and organisations to sign up to work together on plastics avoidance.”

Like Stratford, Warwick and Leamington are part of the Refill bottle scheme.

Jo and Sarah added: “We thank all our followers on Facebook and Twitter for all the steps these people are taking to reduce their single use plastic consumption. It’s is about the masses doing lots of little things, rather than a few people doing everything perfectly. Please keep doing what you can, it all makes a difference. We are so happy to reach this milestone. It is just that, a milestone to show we meet the minimum requirements; we are far from being plastic free but have made fantastic strides. There is so much more to be done and we will continue to work with businesses, sign up more champions, schools and hope to influence many more people to take action around their own lifestyle and habits.”