Council to lead by example in war on plastic

Lib Dem-run Sutton Council is planning to phase out single-use plastics. The plan will see the Council replace single-use plastics with sustainable or reusable alternatives where possible.

Cllr Manuel Abellan, Chair of the Environment and Neighbourhood Committee, said:

"The time is right. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish – If we are going to change this we need to lead by example."

As part of the plans, the Council will encourage businesses to allow customers to fill up water bottles for free in an attempt to reduce waste. It will also lobby the Mayor of London to provide public water fountains.

In Government, the Lib Dems introduced the 5p charge for plastic bags which led to an 85% drop in the number going to landfill. The Lib Dems are now calling for a similar levy on paper coffee cups nationwide, a move so far rejected by the Conservatives.

The motion agreed at Full Council can be found below:

Council, 10 September 2018
Motion on Single-Use Plastics

Mover: Councillor Hanna Zuchowska
Seconder: Councillor Manuel Abellan

Council notes with concern that:

  • 300 million tons of new plastic is made each year, half of which is for single-use. In many cases there are practical alternatives available that are either re-usable or sustainable.
  • the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has estimated that by weight there could be more plastic in oceans than fish by 2050.
  • 79% of the plastic waste ever created is still in the environment.
  • plastic in rivers and seas leads to rubbish on beaches and riverbanks, as well as coastal dead zones, entanglement, death through ingestion, toxic transfer and, once degraded into microplastics, contamination of the animal and human food chains.

Council welcomes:

  • the significant increase in recycling achieved in the Borough in the last year - from 36% to 50% - as a result of the new waste and recycling contract introduced by Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat administrations in Kingston, Croydon, Merton and Sutton. Sutton is now projected to be one of London’s top three boroughs for recycling.
  • the upcoming Government consultation on Deposit Return Schemes and the significant reduction in plastic waste that such schemes have achieved in Germany, Sweden and Denmark.
  • the success of the ‘plastic bag levy’, introduced by the 2010-15 Coalition government, which has led to an 85% reduction in disposable plastic bag usage in England and 9 billion fewer bags per year going into landfill or waste treatment.
  • the introduction of a ban on products containing microbeads as a way of reducing these plastics getting into our oceans and harming marine life.

Council agrees that the Borough will reduce plastic waste, specifically by:

  • undertaking an audit of single-use plastics used by the Authority and all council commissioned services, replacing them with sustainable or re-usable alternatives where practicable.
  • ensuring, where possible, all future council commissioning exercises eliminate the use of single-use plastics, replacing them with sustainable or re-usable alternatives where practicable.
  • informing members of the public in its online and written communications about reducing plastic waste.
  • using its membership of the South London Waste Partnership to improve opportunities to recycle new materials wherever possible.
  • implementing the decision of the South London Waste Partnership to call on all supermarkets in the borough to reduce the use of plastic food wrappings.
  • writing to both Sutton’s Members of Parliament and to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs urging them to consider legislation and regulations which will reduce the amount of single-use plastic used in England.
  • working collaboratively with businesses and representative organisations, such as the BIDs and Chamber of Commerce, in Sutton to encourage them to reduce the amount of plastic waste they produce.
  • writing to the major supermarket chains with a presence in Sutton asking them to consider introducing a ‘plastic free aisle’ in their local stores on a trial basis.
  • exploring all options to reduce single-use plastic water bottle waste in Sutton, such as: encouraging community water-refill schemes, improving access to tap water in local businesses and organisations, ending the sale of plastic bottled water on council-managed premises, promoting apps to help consumers locate free tap water
  • working with TfL and the Mayor of London to install free water fountains in Sutton High Street and across the borough in high footfall areas.
  • working on a ‘Refill Sutton’ campaign where local businesses agree to refill bottles with tap water for free.


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