Buxton has been awarded the ‘Plastic Free Community’ status by marine conservation charity, Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), becoming the 165th ‘Plastic Free Community’ nationally and the first in the High Peak, leading the way to tackle throw-away plastic at source.
The award is in recognition of the work the town has done to start reducing the impact of single-use plastic (SUP) on the environment, led by Transition Buxton’s Plastics Group. Over fifty businesses, schools and community groups, along with the Borough Council, have all pro-actively supported the effort with their enthusiasm and commitment to becoming more sustainable. Each Plastic Business Champion has committed to eliminating at least three items of SUP from their operation, with most doing more than that, and each Community Ally has pledged to reduce their use of SUPs.
A celebration took place on Wednesday 21 June at The Pump Room, hosted by the Buxton Crescent Heritage Trust, where the town officially received its accreditation with all business champions and community allies invited. Town Crier, Mr Bill Weston MBE (pictured), was chosen to receive the certificate. Bill was thrilled to be referred to as Mr Buxton and spoke of his immense pride in our special town and friendly people.
Transition Buxton took on the campaign as part of their commitment to Buxton becoming a more sustainable community.
After registering with the SAS Plastic Free Communities movement, Transition Buxton volunteers pulled together key organisations and businesses in the town to put in place a five-point plan. The objectives include:
- setting up a community led steering group – the Transition Buxton Plastics Group
- instigating the SAS Plastic Free Schools education programme
- getting local council commitment – Cllr Jean Todd is the HPBC representative on the Steering Group
- and working with local businesses, organisations and community groups to spread the word and minimise the amount of disposable plastics they use.
Jean Ball, Chair of Transition Buxton, says:
“The response from everyone has been fantastic. We now have businesses, schools and community groups across the town working to reduce their single use plastic, reducing waste and emissions, from removing polystyrene packaging to plastic water bottles, replacing plastic with cardboard and refilling and reusing plastic containers.
Buxton Community School even removed a million plastic bottles from waste each year. This particularly inspiring example of action taken was coordinated by the school’s eco group, which worked out that 1 million single-use bottles were used and thrown away in the school each year. With support from the staff, caterers, and a small grant, the school now has water fountains, and no plastic bottles are sold or used in the school.”
As part of the journey, Transition Buxton runs a recycling scheme for some plastics that cannot currently be recycled through the council and supermarket schemes. The hope is this will eventually become redundant as less plastic is used. In the meantime check out the details via their website here.
Derek Bodey, who led the project for Transition Buxton commented
“It’s been a wonderful community effort to reach this milestone but it’s only the start. I want to thank the Transition Buxton Plastic Group for all the hard work and effort they have put in to get here. However, we want more and more businesses and community groups to sign up – the journey continues definitely continues “
The SAS Plastic Free Community network aims to free the places where we live from single-use. The marine conservation charity says it wants to unite communities to tackle avoidable plastic all the way back to the brands and businesses who create it. It says it is not about removing all plastic from our lives, but kicking our addiction to throwaway plastic and changing the system that produces it.
Rachel Yates, SAS Plastic Free Communities Project Manager, said:
“It’s great to see the work that Buxton has done to reduce the availability of avoidable plastics, raise awareness and encourage people to refill and reuse. We have over six hundred communities across the UK working to reduce single use plastic and the impact it has on our environment. Every step those communities and the individuals in them take is a step towards tackling the problem at source, challenging our throwaway culture and encouraging the habit and system changes we need to see.”
Receiving the award is not the end of the journey. The Plastic Champions who attended the celebration all took away next steps leaflets and were urged to recruit new businesses and community groups, and to encourage their members to take individual action to reduce their own single use plastic.
We all need to continue our efforts to keep single use plastic out of the natural environment because:
- less than 9% of plastic is currently recycled in the UK
- 50% of plastic produced is designed to be used just once
- 10 million tons of plastic reaches the oceans every year
Less pollution, less use of finite resources, and less emissions are good for everyone, and everyone needs to make an effort.
Transition Buxton: www.transitionbuxton.co.uk
Derek Bodey, Community Lead for Plastic Free Buxton: email@example.com
Plastic Free Communities: www.plasticfree.org.uk
Surfers Against Sewage: www.sas.org.uk