12 Dec 2017

Cutting plastic waste in Wirral

Very pleased that my motion calling on Wirral Council to eliminate single use plastic from all its activities was passed unanimously at last night's full council meeting. Below a copy of my speech followed by the motion:

Reducing single-use plastic (SUP) in Wirral
Plastic waste is perhaps the most obvious manifestation of our throw away society. From mountains of litter to the appalling impacts on marine wildlife, there is widespread recognition that our consumption of plastic is out of control and its impacts are severe. Media coverage and the Blue Planet television series have dramatically raised consciousness around this issue. There is a clear public appetite for action.

There is also a practical imperative to dramatically reduce plastic waste. Most of our waste plastic exports go to China. Earlier this year China announced that, from January, it would no longer accept imports of waste plastic.

Consequently, for health, environmental and economic reasons we urgently need to cut our consumption of plastic and improve recycling facilities.

There are numerous examples showing how this can be achieved:
  • The plastic bag tax has cut consumption in England by 85% and shows that robust public action can be highly effective

  • Pub chains including Weatherspoons and All Bar One are removing plastic straws from their outlets

  • Pret a Manger is installing water stations for customers to refill water bottles.

  • Many local authorities are looking to reintroduce public drinking fountains, once a common feature in our towns and cities.

  • France is implementing a range of measures to meet its target of being SUP free by 2020.

Wirral Council has an important role to play by removing SUP from our activities and encouraging local business and the wider public to do likewise. I look forward to the complete elimination of SUP from council activities over the next two years.

The motion passed reads as follows:

Council notes that, in the UK, some 2.2 million tonnes of plastic packaging is consumed annually. Only 40% of this is recycled domestically1. According to recent research, eight million tons of plastic waste ends up in the world's oceans each year, endangering marine life and entering the food chain2. In addition, there is a growing understanding of the risks posed to human health by toxic chemicals present in plastics.

Council also notes that following the introduction of the 5p bag charge in England in 2015, the use of single-use plastic bags dropped by 83% in the first six months.

Council believes that the reduction of single-use plastic would benefit health in Wirral and reduce waste. Council therefore requests the Cabinet to:

1. Develop a robust strategy to ensure Wirral Council phases out single-use plastics (SUP) in its activities within the next two years.
2. Work with partners and other large institutions e.g. the NHS to encourage them in developing similar strategies to reduce SUP.
3, Inform the public of Wirral of the reasons for phasing out SUP and encourage them to switch to alternatives.
(Labour amendment follows)
Council also agrees to:
1. Incorporate the reduction of SUP use into Wirral Council's Waste Minimisation Strategy (regarding entire Borough, not just WBC).
2. Refer all of the recommendations in this motion to Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee with a view to advising Cabinet how they can most effectively
be delivered.
3. Ask the Cabinet Member for Environment to write to the Conservative Minister for Environment, requesting that the reduction of SUP form part of any future
national Waste Management Strategy.

1. Wrap. Plastics Market Situation Report, Spring 2016, p9
2. Science. Plastic Waste Inputs from Land into the Oceans. Feb 13, 2015.

1 comment:

  1. Great to see a Green councillor giving the lead on this.

    And all credit to the other parties'councillors for creating a cross-party consensus.