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New moves to tackle Cambridgeshire plastic waste

By Adrian Curtis

The war against plastic waste is stepping up in Cambridgeshire.

A list of Cambridgeshire food outlets that shun single-use plastic is to be published by the county council from September.

Plastic pledge campaign for businesses which Rebecca Willers has started at Shepreth Wildlife Park. Picture: Keith Heppell. (11867456)
Plastic pledge campaign for businesses which Rebecca Willers has started at Shepreth Wildlife Park. Picture: Keith Heppell. (11867456)

And a conservation charity is encouraging businesses in Cambridge to sign a new plastic pledge.

The county council list will advise which shops, restaurants and other food outlets you can use without adding to the tides of plastic pollution that are blighting our seas and waterways.

Sheryl French, project director for the council’s energy investment unit, said: “The idea is if you are interested in reducing your plastic pollution and you go out to buy your lunch, that you can find the place that can offer you a plastic-free lunch.

“It’s important for the council to lead this type of work because we have had a number of young people come forward to identify plastic pollution as a significant concern.”

The move is part of wider efforts by the council to reduce its environmental impact.

The general purposes committee is committed to eliminating single-use plastics to achieve the highest in-house recycling rate of any council in the country. That idea will go to full council, along with the plan for a plastic-free lunch list, for a final decision in July. Other plans include changing the council’s procurement process so that companies looking to take on council contracts will need to justify any use of single-use plastics.

Meanwhile, a Cambridgeshire wildlife park is offering visitor vouchers worth up to £50 to any businesses that join a new project called the Cambridge Plastic Pledge.

Shepreth Wildlife Park and its conservation charity have teamed up with Visit Cambridge and Great Days Out In & Around Cambridge to launch the project.

Many companies are already taking steps to help reduce the amount of single-use plastic they use. It is estimated that approximately 12m tonnes of plastic ends up in our oceans every year, harming marine life and everything else up the food chain, including people.

As a thank you for joining the plastic pledge, Shepreth will be giving every company or organisation that signs-up for the project, a £50 entrance gift voucher to visit the park and an invite to the launch evening on August 11.

The scheme is the brainchild of Rebecca Willers, director of the wildlife park, who told the Cambridge Independent: “Becoming plastic-free is a difficult task, but making small changes can be achievable, and adding together all these small changes creates big change. We are asking every business and organisation in Cambridge to just make one small change this year, so we can all become part of the bigger solution to a better planet.

Plastic pledge campaign for businesses which Rebecca Willers has started at Shepreth Wildlife Park. Picture: Keith Heppell. (11867606)
Plastic pledge campaign for businesses which Rebecca Willers has started at Shepreth Wildlife Park. Picture: Keith Heppell. (11867606)

“We have made it as easy as possible for people. They just have to make one pledge, this could be changing plastic straws for paper straws – there is a whole list of things but we have made it super easy to get people in that mindset. We are going to undertake a launch evening in August and Shepreth is giving away £50 entrance voucher which businesses can give to their staff as an incentive. We have had people phoning about it already, which is great.

“Even if you are in an office, changing cellotape to masking tape and those kinds of things all help. Experts now believe that 90 per cent of sea birds have plastic in them –
those are the findings that shock and scare you.

“We are at the top of the food chain and so this plastic may well end up back in us at some time.

“The pledge is a start.”

Any company or organisation that would like to sign up to the Cambridge Plastic Pledge and make a positive change this year can visit surveymonkey.com/r/TVK2WYZ.

Read more

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