Shops and restaurants in Thanet will be among the first groups supported to remove single-use plastic from their operations following Thanet District Council’s vote to work with group Plastic Free Thanet to make the isle a plastic free community.
At a full council meeting last week members voted unanimously in favour of supporting volunteer-run Plastic Free Thanet’s work reducing the flow of single-use plastic on to streets and beaches.
Plastic Free Thanet, part of the nationwide Surfers Against Sewage movement, formed in July with the aim of getting local government, businesses, schools and community groups to do away with unnecessary single-use plastic.
It brings together Surfers Against Sewage leads from Margate, Broadstairs, Ramsgate and Minster who are working with isle groups including Rise Up Clean Up and Ramsgate Litter Forum to tackle the plastic problem.
The group says only 12% of the 100 billion pieces of plastic packaging that are thrown away by UK households every year actually gets recycled. The rest ends up in waterways, harms wildlife and damages people’s health. They say plastic is also a large and growing contributor to the greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet, leading to extreme weather and rising ocean levels.
Thanet council’s support for the campaign coincides with funding from marine conservation charity Sea-Changers for Plastic Free Thanet to work with 60 businesses over the next six months to help remove at least three items of single-use plastic per business.
The council has committed to:
- Putting a member on the local Plastic Free Thanet steering group.
- Supporting Plastic Free Communities initiatives in its area.
- Reviewing the progress already made in the removal of single-use plastic items from its premises and operation, and use the information gathered to create a realistic timeline for completion of the process.
Ramsgate Central Harbour Green Party Councillor Becky Wing, who leads on Plastic Free Thanet for Ramsgate, said: “It’s a massive step in the right direction for Thanet District Council to follow in the footsteps of Broadstairs and Ramsgate Town Councils in tackling the issue of plastics, which find their way into our communities, waterways, along our coast and into the sea.
“Smaller businesses are trying but a trip to any large supermarket will clearly evidence very little being done to deal with this serious environmental issue.”
Margate Central Labour Councillor Rob Yates, who introduced the motion to the council, said: “Labour councillors are delighted to see the council unanimously pass the Plastic Free Thanet motion.
“It is vital that councils across the country set the trend in managing single-use plastic and have continued dialogue with the community and businesses to reduce this pollution. We look forward to continued dialogue with Plastic Free Thanet and will do everything we can to support this important campaign.”