Many people in Torbay and across the UK were moved by the recent ‘Blue Planet’ programme which highlighted how single use plastics are blighting the UK’s seas, beaches and marine life. This in turn affects people as the plastic can end up in the food we eat.
In 2016 the Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimated that by weight there could be more plastic than fish in our seas.
Given the importance of fishing to Torbay’s economy, and the attraction of the sea to tourists who visit year after year, Liberal Democrat councillors Swithin Long and Christine Carter tabled a motion to a recent Full Council meeting calling on the council to go plastic free, and to join a campaign run by Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) and a local newspaper so that Torbay becomes part of 125 other communities in Devon going plastic free. The motion called for the council to:
- Phase out the use of single use plastics (such as cups) in all council buildings and events;
- Increase the amount of plastic that can be recycled through doorstep recycling;
- Work with businesses and the tourism sector to participate in the scheme;
- Sign up to the SAS Plastic Free campaign;
- Install a free drinking water fountain in Paignton Library;
- Create a Plastic Free Taskforce.
In response, the Mayor agreed with the motion, and in particular agreed to:
- Join the South West Marine Plastics Initiative with the Groundwork Trust to focus on tackling marine plastics;
- Replace single use plastics in all council and partner’s buildings;
- Join the Refill Devon scheme which is a tap water campaign seeking to introduce water refill points and install a refill point in Paignton Library;
The council will also look for new markets that can accept more difficult to recycle plastics and the Mayor also agreed to join the SAS campaign.
Commenting on the successful motion, Councillor Swithin Long said: “The Blue Planet Programme was a wake-up call to people across the country about the damage that plastic is doing to our sea, the animals who live in it and ultimately to ourselves because the plastic ends up in the food chain. I am pleased that the council has agreed to play its part.”
Councillor Christine Carter said: “Under a previous Liberal Democrat administration Torbay Council played a pivotal part in Torbay achieving Fair Trade status. We are pleased that the council has agreed to play its part in Torbay becoming plastic free.”