Labour call on Westminster Council to promote a ‘Plastic-free city’

Labour Councillors have called on Westminster City Council to promote a ‘plastic-free city’ by encouraging supermarkets, restaurants, cafes, bars and shops to:

  • use more easily-recycled containers
  • offer paper bags to package fruit and vegetable
  • promote ‘packaging-free shops’ which allow customers to bring their own containers, keeping waste to an absolute minimum.
  • use paper drinking straws in cafes, restaurants and bars
  • be part of a water bottle refill scheme
  • locate Recycling Points in the entrance of stores for old plastic bags and film,
  • boost recycling and cut waste by encouraging shops, restaurants, cafes to introduce a deposit when customers buy drinks bottles and cans
  • encourage residents, visitors and office workers to carry reusable coffee cups and bottles

Labour argue that the Council should also give a lead by installing new drinking fountains in parks, squares, shopping areas and near transport hubs across Westminster to enable people to fill up water containers/bottles. In addition, the Council should:

  • work with the Canal & River Trust and Port of London Authority to ensure waterways and surrounding areas are clear of plastic and other debris, through regular clean-ups of these areas to stop plastic getting into the Thames
  • call on the Royal Parks to ensure all events there (Concerts, Winter Wonderland etc) are plastic-free in terms of takeaway containers
  • support a local social enterprise to make and sell products encouraging people to reduce plastic use – reusable cups, paper straws, reusable shopping bags

Labour say that the Council should encourage more innovations by high street operators, for example:

  • Pret a Manger launched a plastic bottle deposit return scheme in Brighton which will recycle any plastic bottles and return a 10p deposit on any Pret-branded bottles. The initial feedback reported 15 percent of Pret bottles were returned on the first day. Pret a Manger has also partnered with bottle makers Chilly’s to create a range of reusable 500ml plastic bottles. Pret has also been offering free filtered water stations which are available to passers-by and customers alike at 66 of its shops across the UK.
  • Morrisons has begun a deposit return scheme trial for the return of single-use plastic bottles in two UK stores. The two reverse vending machines will award participating customers with points coupons. The machines accept all plastic bottles that have a barcode and Morrisons own-brand bottles that may not have one. Customers can return a maximum of 20 bottles a day and receive 100 Morrisons More points in the form of a coupon which can be spent in store for each one. They can also choose to donate a 10p cash alternative to the supermarket’s charity partner, CLIC Sargent.
  • Iceland has introduced a reverse vending machine in its Fulham store which rewards customers for recycling with shopping vouchers. The machine accepts any Iceland plastic drinks Every bottle deposited will warrant a 10p voucher.
  • Visitors to Canary Wharf can recycle their single-use plastic bottles and cans using a Deposit Return Scheme in Canada Place. The machine currently rewards users with a ‘thank you’ note and plans are being finalized for the machine to print 5p or 10p discount vouchers, depending on the retailer.
  • Whitbread plc offers free drinking water for customers and passers-by in each of its Costa Coffee and Premier Inn locations.
  • McDonald’s has promised to discontinue use of plastic straws in all its UK restaurants.
  • Leon restaurant chain has replaced plastic straws with biodegradable alternatives.

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Labour’s Environment and City Management spokesperson, said:

“Westminster Council needs to become a ‘plastic-free city’ as soon as possible and we hope that the Council will give serious consideration to our proposals so that we can work together with local businesses and residents to steadily reduce the use of plastics in the office, at home, in shops, restaurants and bars. We need to build on the pioneering work started by a number of businesses and work with the Mayor to tackle this serious challenge to our environment.”

Key Facts

  • Plastic bottles and their lids make up 10% of all litter found in the Thames.
  • The average time for a plastic bottle to completely degrade is at least 450 years.
  • UK consumers use around 13 billion plastic drinks bottles a year but more than three billion are not recycled.
  • About 40 countries worldwide – including Norway, Germany, Sweden and Israel – and 21 US states have some kind of deposit return scheme for plastic bottles.
  • Most schemes involve returning bottles to an automated collection point or to the shop from which they were purchased.
  • The Norwegian scheme claims a 94% recycling rate for bottles made from PET, the clear plastic used for water and fizzy drinks. The drinks industry has installed machines in shops that take in used bottles and cans and give back a coupon to return the deposit.
  • The 5p levy on plastic bags in the UK has resulted in single-use carrier bags usage down by 83%.
  • 80 % of 18-22 year-olds ranked tackling single-use plastics as important or very important for employers, ahead of reducing electricity use, water consumption and reducing greenhouse gases.
  • Environmental responsibility is now in the top three considerations for all younger workers and 43% said they would be shocked if their employer continued to use single-use plastics.
This entry was posted in Recycling, Westminster City Council and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Labour call on Westminster Council to promote a ‘Plastic-free city’

  1. Pingback: Labour calls on Council to encourage ‘plastic bottle’ payment initiative in Westminster Car Parks | labourwestminster

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