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English water companies warned to clean up their act following unacceptable performance reports

 

The Environment Agency has today released its annual performance assessments for English water companies, finding overall performance to be ‘simply unacceptable’.

Serious warnings to the water companies causing damage to rivers, wildlife, beaches and bathers has been issued in the latest annual performance assessments today.

Water companies failed to meet overall pollution incident targets in 2018. Photo: Andy Hughes.

 

In the report’s foreword, Emma Howard Boyd, EA chair said:

“Performance in 2018 was simply unacceptable … rather than improving, the performance of most companies has deteriorated, reversing the trend of gradual improvement since we introduced the environmental performance assessment in 2011.”

Southern Water and Yorkshire Water, in particular, were identified for their poor performance and unacceptable levels of ‘serious pollution incidents’. These include events which cause either serious extensive or persistent impacts on the environment, people or property, and may, for example, result in a large number of fish deaths. The number of serious pollution incidents across England also rose from 52 to 56.

South West Water also shared the two star “unacceptable level of performance” rating, showing no improvement from 2017, due to its excessive number of total pollution incidents which were significantly worse than targeted.

Northumbrian Water was the only one of the nine companies which managed to achieve the expected four-star level of performance during the assessment period, and is one of the few companies leading the way in providing year-round data to the Safer Seas Service. SAS is calling for all water companies to provide year-round combined sewer overflow alerts by 2020, allowing water users to make informed decisions on whether it’s safe to us the water.

The report also highlighted that most companies look set to miss the Environment Agency’s 2020 pollution targets.

The findings follow Surfers Against Sewage’s release of sewage spill data from the Safer Seas Service last week, which highlighted the failures of water companies to prevent pollution of bathing waters already during the 2019 season, with Southern Water performing particularly poorly – prompting action from regional SAS reps.

Surfers Against Sewage’s Brighton regional reps group at Paddle Round the Pier 2019, protesting against Southern Waters deliberate misreporting of its wastewater practices. Photo: Andrew Riley

 

Hugo Tagholm, CEO of Surfers Against Sewage said:

“Water companies must put the health of the planet before their profits. Today’s damning report shows just how poorly most of England’s water companies are performing, presiding in a regime of wilful pollution, poor planning and a lack of investment. Protecting our rivers, ocean and natural water supplies is non-negotiable – they are crucial to the health of communities. Water companies must do much better than this.

Through the #GenerationSea campaign, Surfers Against Sewage is calling for robust legislation to protect UK water quality standards through Brexit, and a strong, independent watchdog to regulate water company performance and hold companies accountable for pollution offences.

In addition, the Ocean Conservation All-Party Parliamentary Group for which SAS are the secretariat, is pushing for new legislation led by Scott Mann MP to enable regulators to fine and hold water companies accountable for combined sewer overflows.

Surfers Against Sewage is urging supporters to contact their local MP, calling for them to pledge their support for #GenerationSea – protecting our oceans from sewage, plastic pollution, global heating and over-exploitation by fisheries. Alongside this, our Safer Seas Service should be utilised to stay informed with real-time sewage spill alerts and water quality information.

Infographic of the key assessment findings. Source: Environment Agency.

 

Full report available here.

The post English water companies warned to clean up their act following unacceptable performance reports appeared first on Surfers Against Sewage.

Greenpeace Russia has discovered half a ton of plastic fragments on the coast of the Black Sea and the Azov Sea.

In November 2018, Greenpeace experts assessed the level of plastic pollution in the Black and Azov Seas. On the beaches 13,000 fragments were found, ranging from tiny pieces of unknown origin to 100 kilogram ship ropes.

Locations of GP study

The main sources of pollution are tourists, waste from other countries brought by currents, and maritime shipping.

Most of the plastic found is determined to be single-use packaging or goods. In the Black Sea, the share of such plastic is almost 68%, on the Azov Sea – up to 90%. The main pollutant of the latter was bottles, and the Black Sea coast was filled with styrofoam.

“We have now witnessed that plastic pollution is a real problem for the Black and Azov seas. On the hundred-meter sections of the coast, we found from 435 to 3,501 pieces of plastic. Even the borders of the Utrish nature reserve are littered. We found 1,001 plastic pieces in one monitored area and 2,991 pieces in the other. This is mainly one-off goods, packaging and bags that are all trash we can consciously avoid. Today in Russia there is no regulations over plastic pollution of the environment. There are no holistic measures to prevent it. Greenpeace urges the Government of the Russian Federation to develop a national system for monitoring plastic contamination and approve a list of single-use goods, containers and packaging that should be banned step by step. We cannot resolve this issue otherwise,” says Alexander Ivannikov, an expert at the Zero Waste project of Greenpeace Russia.

Interestingly, the more difficult it was for people to have access to an area, the higher its level of plastic contamination was. This may be due to the fact that such areas are less likely to be cleaned, while debris is still washed ashore.

Single-use plastic items pollute the environment, decompose for hundreds of years and harm animals. Sea inhabitants and birds often become its victims, mistaking pieces of plastic for food or getting entangled in them. According to the British government, plastic ends up in stomachs of 31 species of marine mammals and 100 species of seabirds.

On the method

During the expedition, Greenpeace experts used the methodology for monitoring marine debris on the beaches, which was developed by the DeFishGear project. The data collected was one of the reasons for the European Commission to ban certain types of plastic products.

According to the methodology, Greenpeace experts chose hundred-meter areas (polygons): 5 – on the Black Sea coast and 3 – on the Sea of Azov. From the surface of polygons, visually distinguishable fragments of plastic were collected, their number was counted, they were weighed and sorted by purpose / type of product.

The post Greenpeace Russia has discovered half a ton of plastic fragments on the coast of the Black Sea and the Azov Sea. appeared first on Break Free From Plastic.

The Annual Report Of Plastic Bottle Brand Research – Half Of The Bottles Belongs To Local Brands While The Other Half Belongs To Mainland Chinese Brands (Video Of Short-Lived Plastic Brand Survey Attached)

(2 June 2019 Press release) Worldwide, over 8 million tonnes of plastic waste is dumped into the oceans every year, and beverage plastic bottles are the most commonly found type of waste during beach clean-up activities that serve as a good indicator of marine plastic waste.

The Green Earth has launched the ‘Short-Lived Plastic’ Plastic Bottle Brand Research in July 2018. Since then, 43 beach clean-up activities have been conducted in 25 locations, covering Hong Kong Island, New Territories, and the Outlying Islands. Out of the 11,321 bottles collected in our study, 7,945 bottles were categorized by brands and a total of 287 brands were identified. The group was unable to identify the brands of the remaining 3,376 bottles due to the missing of labels and/or bottle caps.

Based on our research findings, C’estbon, which is owned by the mainland Chinese brand China Resources, accounted for the most bottles collected. This was followed by Swire Coca-Cola series, Vita series, Watsons Water series, and mainland Chinese brand Master Kong respectively.

Among the traditional Chinese labelling brands, Vita ranked the first, followed by Coca-Cola and Watsons Water. These three brands have accounted for 75% of the total bottles collected (3,919 bottles).

Apart from the ranking, The Green Earth has discovered the following main points:

Finding 1. Regarding bottles wrapped with traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese character labels, each accounts for 48% of the total number of bottles found, and the remaining 4% was of other languages, which reflects that the Hong Kong shorelines are greatly affected by marine wastes generated in mainland China and should be addressed.

While mainland China is the country that generates the most marine plastic waste in the world, we should apply four ways at the same time to tackle the issue: 1. To launch the producer responsibility regulation for beverage packaging as soon as possible; 2. Before the implementation of the regulation, the mainland Chinese drink manufacturers such as C’estbon, Master Kong, etc. should set aggressive plastic reduction goals; 3. To improve waste collection and recycling facilities; 4. To improve cooperation, monitoring, and reporting system between Guangdong authorities and the Hong Kong SAR government, so as to prevent plastic wastes and household waste from entering the rivers and the oceans.

Most of the international beverage manufacturers have launched and implemented plastic reduction measures. Local brands such as Swire Coca-Cola, Vita, and Watsons Water have also announced their plastic reduction target that is to recycle 70-90% of their beverage bottles by 2025. We urge the mainland Chinese brands to catch up and do not fall behind the trend.

In Hong Kong, the recycling rate of PET beverage bottles remains low throughout the years, with a recycling rate of only 6.8% in 2017. The Green Earth believes there is an urgent need for the Environmental Protection Department to conclude the consultancy study of the plastic bottle producer responsibility scheme, and to move on to the next step – legislation development.

Finding 2. According to the classification of drink types, non-water drinks such as soft drink, juice, and tea only account for 33% (2,580 bottles), while water, including both mineral and distilled water, accounts for 67% (5,151 bottles).

The Green Earth points out that the number of waste bottled water can be greatly reduced with the quicker introduction of water dispensers to be installed widely in the community and wider use of reusable water bottles by the public. Beverage producers should consider changing the format of sales from selling drinks in single-use plastic bottles to dispensing facilities.

The Green Earth would like to emphasize that an average of 20,000 disposable beverage plastic bottles are sold every second worldwide, with most of the used bottles being dumped at landfills and a very small portion have got properly recycled. We believe the most effective solution is to reduce at source, avoid purchasing single-use beverage plastic bottles, and recycle properly in case of unavoidable purchase.

To address the ocean plastic waste problems, The Green Earth urges:
1. Support ‘Short-Lived Plastic’ Plastic Bottle Brand Research to continuously monitor the plastic packaging industry. Details: http://greenearth-hk.org/plasticwaste/
2. Apart from plastic bottles, we are also expanding our monitoring coverage to plastic packaging, and the result will be released in August;
3. On 8 June ‘World Ocean Day’, we will be conducting beach clean-up and brand research in the Plover Cover Reservoir. Details: https://forms.gle/Zs6JyxofxXNypdBN7

Clean-up survey sites:
Hong Kong Island: Cape D’aguilar, Shek O Tai Tau Chau.
New Territories: Yuen Long -– Ha Pak Nai; Tuen Mun – Lung Kwu Tan; Lai Chi Wo; Crooked Island; Sha Tau Kok – Wu Shek Kok, Tai Po – Sha Lan, Sam Mun Tsai, Yuen Chau Tsai Park; Plover Cover Reservoir; Sai Kung – Pak Sha Chau, Yeung Chau, Chuk Kok, Little Palm Beach, Cham Tau Chau.
Outlying Islands: Lantau Island – Tung Chung River, Tai O, Shui Hau, Tung Ping Chau, Sunshine Island; Lamma Island – Yung Shue Ha Village, Pak Kap Hang; Tung Lung Chau – Kai Yue Tam, Tathong Point.

Special Thanks to:
GoGo Clean Up, Lantau Buffalo Association, Association for Sha Tau Kok Culture and Ecology, Coastal Conservation Hong Kong, NatureSprites, Gaomad Yeah, Trailwatch, Green Sense, Tung Lung Chau, Typhoon Mangkhut aftermath clean up group (Tung Lau Chau), YC Leung, Kitti, Kammy Lai.

Press Enquiries:
The Green Earth – Executive Director Edwin Lau; Director of Environmental Advocacy Hahn Chu; Project Officer Mandy Cheung; 37088380

Plastic Bottle found after Super Typhoon Mangkhut. The metal cap shows it is 30-year old plus.

 

Coca-cola’s plastic bottle is so abundant among marine garbage. (Photo 1 of 2)

 

Coca-cola series plastic bottle is so abundent among marine garbage. (Photo 2 of 2)

 

Chinese Brand C’estbon gets the first place in the survey

Volunteering doing brands survey

Vita series accounted for the most bottles collected

 

We got a tonne of Vita’s water bottles

Volunteers picking up recognizable bottles for brand survey

Volunteers picking up recognizable bottles for brand survey

The majority we see here goes to C’estbon (Photo 2 of 2)

Sorting out by brands

Got a thousand of bottles in half day at Tung Lung Chau, mindblowing. (Photo Credits: Typhoon Mangkhut aftermath clean up group (Tung Lau Chau)

Got a thousand of bottles in half day at Tung Lung Chau, mindblowing. (Photo Credits: Typhoon Mangkhut aftermath clean up group (Tung Lau Chau)

 

Bottles on the beach

Posted in The Green Earth HK.

The post The Annual Report Of Plastic Bottle Brand Research – Half Of The Bottles Belongs To Local Brands While The Other Half Belongs To Mainland Chinese Brands (Video Of Short-Lived Plastic Brand Survey Attached) appeared first on Break Free From Plastic.

What does Michael Gove need to do to win the War on Plastic?

On Monday night, Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall sat down with the Environment Secretary Michael Gove to quiz him about the scale and nature of our plastic pollution crisis. Hugh is doing such a brilliant job in raising this issue, so we thought we’d provide a handy list of things Michael Gove should do as soon as possible to win the War on Plastic:

Set targets in law to radically reduce the amount of plastic we make and use in the upcoming Environment Bill

We know that if we’re serious about dealing with climate and environmental breakdown, we need to make a bold switch away from being a society where things are used once and thrown away to one where we value everything we make. With plastic, this will require businesses to transform the way they get products to you – making far more things reusable, refillable or simply not using any packaging at all. We can’t rely on voluntary commitments to make this happen, as businesses have a bit of a habit of making them then breaking them. So the only way we’re going to make the switch happen, we think, is to set targets for year-on-year reduction of the amount of plastic that we make and use. The upcoming Environment Bill, which the government is intending to use to ‘leave the environment in a better state than when they found it’, is a perfect opportunity for Gove and this government to keep their word.

Publicly acknowledge that recycling alone isn’t enough, and that reduction is the only way forward

To their credit, the government recently responded to pressure from people like you, and consulted on a few different measures that they’re planning to introduce to reduce plastic pollution in our oceans. They’re all great ideas which could have a big impact, from a deposit return scheme for drinks containers, to increasing the amount producers pay to clean up their packaging waste. But currently, the government is focused solely on making the plastic we use more recyclable, and not thinking at all about how we use less of it. Given plastic production is set to quadruple by 2050 and plastic as a material can only be recycled a limited number of times before it can no longer be used this clearly isn’t good enough.

Make producers pay the full cost of cleaning up the plastic they make, including the environmental damage done by making the plastic in the first place

One of the biggest reasons why we see so much of our packaging dumped in other countries is because, unlike in lots of other European countries, companies that make and use packaging in the UK aren’t held fully financially responsible for making sure it gets recycled properly. Instead, that cost is currently falling on overstretched councils, paid for by you and me. That means companies can keep making the kind of hard-to-recycle or composite plastic packaging that Hugh was finding (and Greenpeace Unearthed exposed) all over the waste dumps in Malaysia.

Government is currently consulting on changing this system significantly, including stopping it being cheaper to export waste, which is great, but their proposal only goes halfway. Not only should companies that use lots of packaging (retailers, manufacturers etc.) be charged the full cost of collecting and sorting the waste they make, but the government should ensure that they cover the cost of all the environmental damage that making plastic packaging causes – from the microplastic ‘nurdles’ that are used to make plastic items that leak into our seas and rivers, to the fossil fuel and air pollution impacts of plastic factories. Without this, nothing will drive them to improve their habits.

Commit to phasing down the exporting, burning or dumping of our plastic waste as soon as possible

Hugh’s War on Plastic has made it clear that we cannot keep dumping our mess on other countries. Not only does the government need to come up with a plan for phasing down the practice of exporting plastic waste for good, but we also need to make sure that we’re capable of dealing with it ourselves. As we’ve said, the best way to do that is through making and using less stuff, but we also need to make sure that we have the recycling infrastructure in this country to deal with what we do make in the short term. We also can’t let the government dodge the problem by sending our waste to incinerators that cough up greenhouse gases and pollute our air.

You can tell your MP to join this fight by heading to: act.gp/2MSrLfI

The post What does Michael Gove need to do to win the War on Plastic? appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Join the Refill Revolution!

 

(C) Tom Baker

As hundreds of communities across the UK work to start freeing where they live from single-use plastic through the Plastic Free Communities movement, we are seeing a resurgence in public drinking fountains. Whether it’s bringing old fountains back into use, installing new facilities or just making use of publicly available taps, our Plastic Free Communities are helping spearhead the Refill Revolution!

London has been leading the charge with a pledge to install more than 100 drinking water fountains across the city … inviting local communities to apply for one to be installed for free.  Here’s a taste of some of the other projects getting off the ground across the rest of the UK with the support and help of their local councils, Community Allies and volunteers …

Plastic Free Falmouth

The team at Plastic Free Falmouth have instigated four public water refill points on all of the town’s main beaches, Castle Beach, Swanpool Beach, Gyllyngvase Beach and Maenporth. They are now working on restoring historical water fountains in the main town in partnership with Community Allies, Falmouth Town Council and the Falmouth Civic Society.

Community Lead Kirstie Edwards told us: “It’s a simple solution to a big problem. It’s enabled us to radically reduce plastic use at the beach for all users and has been supported by businesses and locals alike. They are widely used and were by far the most popular project that we have been involved with. Huge credit goes to Councillor Tony Parker for spearheading this initiative via the beach management group and securing funding and permissions to have them installed last summer.”

 

Plastic Free Sidmouth

Sidmouth Town Council has installed three fountains, saying it’s very conscious that plastic is becoming more and more of a problem and councillors felt the town should be doing all it could encourage refill.  The scheme has been so successful it’s helped Sidmouth Folk Festival go plastic free and a fourth fountain is planned for the near future! Town Clerk Chris Holland told us they’re easy to install and maintain and there’s ‘no excuse not to do it really’

Community Lead Denise Bickley said: “They are subtle but we all make sure to use them every time we are nearby and make a point of it. I made my children refill many times during our Folk Week last year, as the Market Square one is right where people congregate to watch bands! I think they are a real asset to the town and need to be promoted more. We also have many cafes in the town signed up to the Refill system, and many more that are happy to refill”

Plastic Free Appledore


Northam Town Council installed a water fountain in Churchfields Car Park in Appledore last summer and, being set up in a busy car park, it has meant that day trippers, mooring boats, locals and campers are able to easily refill water bottles without needing to purchase single use bottles. It’s proved so successful that local leads are now in the process of getting water fountains installed in Bideford and Westward Ho!

Plastic Free Appledore Community Lead Sadie Davies said: “We were keen to reduce the amount of litter in our small community especially in the summer when the populat ion increases considerably. Our local councillor Peter Hames, who sits on our Plastic free Torridge Steering Group and Northam Town council was instrumental in getting this fountain up and running for the Appledore community. As a community we are very active in trying to reduce our plastic consumption as we see first-hand the effects it is having on our beautiful coastline and coastal towns and villages.”

Plastic Free Barry & Plastic Free Penarth

Fourteen drinking fountains are going to be installed in the Vale of Glamorgan in an effort to reduce single-use plastic bottles … with the majority being placed in our Plastic Free Communities in Barry and Penarth. The council’s investing £40,000 in the scheme with the hope that it will also help improve its outdoor spaces and encourage people to stay hydrated while they’re active. Community leads say they are pleased their campaigns are getting the bolster, to support their message to refill and reuse.

Anthony Slaughter is the Community Lead in Penarth and says it’s an exciting development: “The local community has reacted very positively to the plastic free campaign and these fountains will help reduce further the use of single use plastics in the town by making it easier for residents and visitors to refill their reusable water bottles at convenient locations. The fountains will be a great help in the community’s continued efforts to turn the tide on plastic.”

 

Plastic Free Beaconsfield

Plastic Free Beaconsfield are running a joint project with their local WI and between them have raised £8000 of community funding to install a water fountain in the town. The project was one of three projects selected to take part in ‘Beaconsfield Decides 2019’ and won twice – showing great public support for the scheme! It’s hoped a joint refill station and fountain for drinking will be installed in the next few months … and there could be enough funds to install two!

Community Lead Jackie Slipper told us: “We think it is essential. Years ago all public places had fountains and free drinking water available, water is a basic human need and should be easily and freely available. Gradually people will automatically carry refillable bottles and not routinely buy single use plastic bottles. When canvassing for support we were really pleased with the encouragement and enthusiasm; we are pushing at open doors, the public really care.”

Plastic Free Dunfermline

Dunfermline is home to an outdoor ‘top-up tap’ as part of a network of refill points being installed across Scotland by Scottish Water. Since it was installed in the high Street this April it’s given out 668 litres of water, the equivalent of 1336 single-use plastic bottles in two months! The local council’s so impressed it’s looking at installing more and the town’s been inundated with requests from other communities to find out how they can also get one.

Community Lead James Daw told us “The top-up tap is a valuable asset to the town centre and fits the work Plastic Free Dunfermline are doing to promote behavioural change around reducing single-use plastic. We have been recruiting businesses in Dunfermline to become ‘Refill Stations’ offering the public places where they can refill their reusable water bottle with tap water for free. We are delighted that all the work we put into this project has come to fruition from the email we sent proposing outdoor water refill point in the first place, to liaising with key local stakeholders about its location.”

Have you got a great refill story to share from your community? Please tell us! You can drop us a line on plasticfreecoastlines@sas.org.uk

To find out more about Plastic Free Communities click here

Sign up your community here

We’re creating the Plastic Free Community network to free where we live from single-use. Together we’re tackling avoidable single-use plastic, from the beach all the way back to the brands and businesses who create it. Wherever you live, whether you’re on shore or inland, urban or rural, high-tide or high-rise, we’re uniting communities in the fight against single-use plastics. It’s not about removing all plastic from our lives. It’s about kicking our addiction to avoidable single-use plastic, and changing the system that produces it. Join us and let’s free where we live from single-use, one plastic bottle at a time.

The post Join the Refill Revolution! appeared first on Surfers Against Sewage.

Plastic Free Awards launched to celebrate environmental heroes fighting plastic pollution

Marine conservation charity Surfers Against Sewage and the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation (IFCF) have confirmed plans to host a national awards ceremony celebrating the thousands of campaigners backing their fight against plastic pollution and production.

The new Plastic Free Awards are set to be held in November this year, to recognise the work of those who involved in the movement to free where we live from single-use plastic.

Entries are now open and can be made through the Plastic Free Awards website: www.plasticfreeawards.org.uk

Activists from all walks of life will be acknowledged, including young campaigners, community leaders, small businesses, charities, designers, entrepreneurs, sports clubs and schools with a shared mission of eliminating avoidable plastics from our world.

Writer, broadcaster and Plastic Free Awards judge Lucy Siegle said:

“Communities and individuals continue to lead the charge on plastics, saying no to unnecessary use that commits us to 500 years of hazardous waste. Unfortunately for policy makers, it is clear that this energy and focus from people across the UK will not stop until the problem is solved.

“But the activists (and that’s what they are, even if some never expected to be!) from cafe owners and teachers to school kids and adventurers use their agency to think beyond the plastic pandemic. They’ve swept up progressive businesses and organisations with their enthusiasm, so we’ve decided to celebrate the very best. Credit where credit is due!”

Iceland Foods Managing Director, IFCF Trustee and Plastic Free Awards judge Richard Walker said:

“We are delighted to support these awards to highlight the great work that is being done by so many to tackle the scourge of single-use plastic, and I am very much look forward to judging the entries and helping to select some truly outstanding winners. You have got to be in it to win it, so I urge everyone to think of individuals and organisations who are going above and beyond in this fight, and enter them for these awards.”

Broadcaster and Plastic Free Awards judge Gillian Burke said:

“The tide is slowly turning in the fight against plastic pollution and now more than ever, we need to be  empowered to help kick our single-use plastic habit.  Celebrating the heroic efforts of campaigners, volunteers and communities who have stepped up to the challenge is one way to inspire us all into being the change we’d like to see.”

Hugo Tagholm, CEO of Surfers Against Sewage and Awards judge said:

“We’re thrilled to launch the Plastic Free Awards to recognise the heroes leading the charge to reinvent our relationship with plastic, protect our ocean and drive sustainable innovation across communities. We have seen an inspirational wave of action to tackle plastic pollution and excessive packaging over the last two years – change is truly happening. The Plastic Free Awards will help shine a spotlight on the mavens and mavericks creating the changes to stop the flow of plastic into our world.”

 

Split across 11 categories and spanning various areas of plastic-free living and leadership, the awards are being hosted in partnership with the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation (IFCF).

There will also be one additional overall winner selected to win the inaugural Sir Malcolm Walker Award for outstanding action on plastics pollution and environmental commitment.

Award categories include:

  • Best Plastic Campaign – The best campaign you’ve seen to raise awareness of and tackle plastic pollution (can include entries from NGOs, broadcasters, magazines, campaigners, CICs, marketing/PR companies and businesses)
  • Plastic-Free Hero – The person who has inspired the UK to tackle plastic pollution and change the way we view single-use plastics
  • Youth Plastic Pioneer – The under 16 who is taking radical action on plastic pollution and taking the nation by storm
  • Sports Champion – Award for the local sports club leading the charge on plastics – whether a community football club, surf life-saving club or a Premier League star that is changing attitudes towards single-use plastics in the sector
  • Plastic-Free Community – The strongest Plastic Free Community in the UK, most successful in uniting to reduce the use of plastic
  • Plastic Product Re-Innovation – Celebrating plastic-free innovation, whether as an inventor, business, entrepreneur, designer or big thinker
  • Reduce & Reuse Award– The best innovative new system helping us reduce our plastic footprint
  • Small Business Award – Refill stores, greengrocers, iron mongers, butchers, bakers – the business doing a brilliant job of freeing your high street from single-use plastics
  • Plastic-Free Venues & Events – Cafes, music venues, festivals and stadia are all getting involved with eliminating plastics, whether it’s a local deposit return schemes on cups to a straw-free festival
  • Schools Champion – The Plastic Free Schools movement is growing fast, but which school is passing this exam with flying colours? Nominate the school or student getting straight A’s on plastic action
  • Sir Malcom Walker Award – The overall winner and biggest influencer on plastics since David Attenborough’s Blue Planet

There are no barriers for who can be nominated – you can enter a friend, a colleague, a family member or someone from your community, as well any charities, schools, businesses or events that have made a significant impact on fighting plastic in your community. They don’t have to be directly involved in the Plastic Free Communities initiative but must have made a significant impact on fighting plastic.

Each entrant will then be judged by a panel of esteemed judges and those nominated invited to attend the awards event in November this year.

Entries are now open and can be made through the Plastic Free Awards website, www.plasticfreeawards.org

 

For more information about the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation and the many good causes it has supported over the years, please go to http://www.ifcf.org.uk/

Article written on behalf of SAS by Hazel Murray

The post Plastic Free Awards launched to celebrate environmental heroes fighting plastic pollution appeared first on Surfers Against Sewage.

New California Bill Could Revolutionize How the U.S. Tackles Plastic Pollution

A sweeping “circular economy” bill in the California legislature aims to drastically reduce plastic waste and boost domestic recycling.

 

The ubiquity of plastic in our lives is leaving a mark — on the geologic record, in remote regions of the Earth, in the bodies of 90 percent of seabirds. Our oceans are a toxic soup, swirling with an estimated 50 million tons of plastic waste. But the tide is changing.

Mounting global pressure to curb plastic pollution is gaining steam. A significant leap came last year with the European Union’s vote to ban single-use plastic items by 2021 and boost bottle recycling 90 percent by 2025. On June 10 Canada announced it would follow Europe’s lead.

In the United States, efforts to reduce plastic waste have so far been piecemeal — bans on specific items, like plastic bags, and only in certain municipalities. But California could help the country take a massive leap forward.

At the end of May, the California Senate passed S.B. 54, the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act, introduced by Senator Ben Allen and modeled after the European effort. A day later, the state’s assembly passed identical legislation, A.B. 1080, introduced by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez. If the bills clear opposite houses and earn the governor’s signature, it will be groundbreaking.

“We haven’t seen anything like this elsewhere in the U.S.,” says Angela Howe, legal director of Surfrider, a nonprofit devoted to clean oceans and beaches, which is part of a coalition of organizations working in support of the legislation and reducing plastic pollution.

The focus of the legislation is on producer responsibility — both reducing the amount of waste generated and making sure what is absolutely necessary is either compostable or recyclable. On average only 9 percent of plastics are recycled in the United States, and that already-modest number is expected to decrease even further as more countries follow China’s lead in closing their doors to waste exports from the United States and elsewhere.

Plastic isn’t just washing up on beaches, it’s piling up at landfills, making the crisis in the country even more urgent and expensive.

 

plastic marine litter

Plastic washes ashore with other marine litter. (Photo by Bo Eide, public domain)

 

As written now the legislation would require manufacturers and retailers in California to reduce the waste generated by single-use packaging and products by 75 percent by 2030 through producing less plastic, recycling more of it, making reusable packaging, or using compostable materials. It would also set guidelines for manufacturers of single-use plastic packaging and products that would ensure that 20 percent of their products are recycled by 2024, 40 percent by 2028, and 75 percent by 2030.

“The single-use plastic crisis is so pervasive that we’re seeing microplastics in the tiniest plankton to the largest whales,” says Ashley Blacow-Draeger, Pacific policy and communications manager at Oceana, which is helping to support the legislation. “It just drives home the message that we can’t recycle our way out of this crisis. We need really strong, bold and timely action now and we don’t have any more time to wait to address the issue.”

Previous efforts to tackle banning or restricting items like foam food containers, plastic bags and plastic straws has been tantamount to winning battles but not winning the war, says Stiv Wilson, director of campaigns for the Story of Stuff, which is producing a film about the global fight against plastic pollution and is a leading coalition partner supporting the legislation.

“If we’re going to fix the system, we have to actually take a systemic approach,” he says.

He admits that regulating the materials economy isn’t as easy as a simple message like banning bags, but it’s the only effective way to tackle the problem.

One of the biggest issues is that there’s simply too much plastic, which is why the bill has an emphasis on source reduction, he says.

“We have to get to a manageable supply to be able to create a reasonable demand,” says Wilson. “Once that lever gets pulled where there is a statutory obligation on a supply chain, all of a sudden you will see investment in that supply chain to meet that demand.”

And that, advocates of the legislation say, should spur investment domestic recycling, build green jobs, and enable companies to develop alternative delivery systems for products meant to create reusability instead of disposability.

The potential benefits would be far-reaching — aiding not just oceans, but wildlife and human health, as well as economies, says Blacow-Draeger.

“It’s shocking how expensive it is for cities and counties to remediate all the single-use plastics waste that is being produced,” she says. “The hope with these pieces of legislation is that they will actually lessen the burden on municipalities and on ratepayers by not producing as much waste to have to process in the future.”

For many industries it would also be a big change.

“It wouldn’t just be the one major plastic bag manufacturer that’s affected,” says Howe. “It’s everything from grocery stores to the natural gas plants that make plastics to retailers and manufacturers.”

Proponents of the legislation say they anticipate pushback from these industries as the bills go through committee in the opposite houses over the next few months. The Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) didn’t return a request for comment, but an industry publication, Plastics Todayreported that the association was urging legislators to vote against the bills: “PLASTICS notes that it has attempted to work with the bills’ sponsors ‘to try and redirect the bills toward policies that are proven to reduce litter and increase diversion rates. Unfortunately, we’ve been unable to have the bills amended to a point where we can support them,’” according to the publication.

Wilson says that the comprehensive nature of the legislation is the only way to effectively reduce plastic pollution, and with California being the fifth biggest economy in the world, the impact of this legislation is likely to be felt in other states.

“I think it’s fair to say that we have a history of seeing manufacturers conform to California laws,” he says. “We saw it with auto emissions — it’s a big enough market that it should spur change across the industry.”

For that ripple effect to happen, California first needs to pass its landmark legislation.

The bills will now need to clear the natural resources and appropriations committees in the opposite houses of their origin before having a chance at a floor vote by Sept. 13. If they pass those hurdles and earn the governor’s signature, the legislation would set a high bar for other states.

“I think it is a line in the sand that essentially says if we don’t take this approach, we don’t solve the problem,” says Wilson. “It’s not only trying to solve a problem, it’s trying to shift the narrative on how you solve the problem. This is actually an expression of the world we want and one we think that can work, and absent that, we’re a dog chasing its tail.”

The post New California Bill Could Revolutionize How the U.S. Tackles Plastic Pollution appeared first on Break Free From Plastic.

Plastic Free Schools Programme Reaches 1,000 Schools Across The UK

Lingey House Primary School Taking Action

Lingey House Primary School taking action

 

In a landmark moment, we are thrilled to reveal that 1,000 schools across the UK are now taking the fight against plastic pollution straight to their communities.

The achievement is a significant milestone for Surfers Against Sewage, as it shows just how many young people across the UK want to make a real difference to the future of our beaches and marine wildlife – starting from their very own villages, towns and cities.

The Plastic Free Schools programme, designed by our charity to help students understand the issues of plastic consumption and take action, has been whole-heartedly embraced by teachers and pupils since its inception in 2017.

Led by the students themselves, it guides schools in the UK through the process of ditching single-use plastic – from conducting a litter audit of the school, to challenging government and industry and removing single-use plastic items from the site for good.

On achieving this goal, each school is then granted ‘Plastic Free’ status.

So far, we have seen some amazing results, with students making big changes within their school environment for generations to come.

Among them, successes include removing individual milk cartons, plastic straws, plastic bottles, plastic cups, condiment sachets, glitter, laminated paper, plastic plates and cutlery, single-use plastic food containers and plastic bags.

Crwys Primary School With Their Reusable Bottles

Crwys Primary School with their reusable bottles

 

A spokesperson for Velmead School, in Hampshire, said:

“Plastic Free Schools has been a great initiative for our ‘Rangers’ team to follow. The steps are practical and achievable and have really helped to guide us through the mission of ridding our school of single-use plastics. As a result of this, we now have an almost completely single-use plastic free kitchen.”

And they’re not the only ones.

Other schools, like Upton House School in Berkshire, have pledged to remove one item of single-use plastic a month from their site, until they can do no more.

A spokesperson for Ripley Court School, in Surrey, added:

“We have absolutely loved working towards our Plastic Free Status. It has really inspired us as a school to do so much. It has had such a positive impact on the children, parents and the staff.”

Ripley Court School

Ripley Court School heading out for a clean-up

 

In order to complete the programme and land Plastic Free Status, schools must follow a series of objectives:

  1. Form a Plastic Free Action Group
  2. Conduct a ‘Trash Mob’ – a quick fire, high energy school clean up
  3. Challenge government by contacting their local MP
  4. Challenge the industries who’s packaging ends up as pollution
  5. Remove at least three single-use plastic items from the school and commit to reducing individual single-use plastic consumption.

To get your school involved, head to the Plastic Free Schools section of our website www.sas.org.uk/plastic-free-schools/

The post Plastic Free Schools Programme Reaches 1,000 Schools Across The UK appeared first on Surfers Against Sewage.

UK MPs sign pledge to protect ocean for generations to come

 

A growing number of MPs from across the UK are joining the fight to save the ocean as part of a new campaign led by Surfers Against Sewage.

Hugo Tagholm, Jaz Strzelecki, Steve Double MP, Dr Alice Roberts and Geraint Davies MP, pledging to protect the ocean at the Ocean Conservation APPG reception. Photo: Geoff Crawford.

The #GenerationSea movement was launched earlier this year, in a bid to unite people to protect the sea – from business owners, parents and teachers to school kids, carers, surfers and more.

Now, over 50 MPs have signed a pledge to show their support, vowing to stop plastic pollution, act fast to tackle the climate crisis, prevent sewage from creeping back into our seas and support protections for sea life to flourish. This is after thousands of SAS supporters have been writing to their MP demanding urgent action.

Tell your MP to protect the ocean and sign the #GenerationSea pledge today 

It follows a reception at Parliament on World Environment Day (5th June) which saw MPs stepping forward to sign a dedicated SAS surfboard, with those among the signatures including Chair of the Ocean Conservation APPG, Steve Double MP, vice chairs Geraint Davies MP and Kerry McCarthy MP, Shadow Environment Secretary Sue Hayman MP and parliamnetarians from all parties across the UK.

The charity is now urging more MPs to step forward and sign their pledge, as the proposed Environment Bill post-Brexit is put into place – describing it as the opportunity of a generation.

As part of the campaign, SAS says it wants to see more powerful laws implemented and an independent environment watchdog created to protect the seas and enforce targets for Government and big business.

Hugo Tagholm, Chief Executive of Surfers Against Sewage said

“The ocean emergency is now. The climate emergency is upon us. The plastic pollution crisis is real.”

“Citizens from across the UK are joining our #GenerationSea campaign, contacting MPs to demand faster and tougher action to protect our ocean.”

“The latest UK Marine Strategy shows we have a great deal to do. As of May 2019 the UK has met just four out of 15 indicators required for healthy oceans. This is a wake-up call. Parliament needs to use its powers to prevent further environmental damage and ensure we improve our natural world for everyone and everything to enjoy.

That’s why we have been asking our the public to encourage MPs to support faster action on global heating, plastic pollution and ensuring protected areas of our ocean are truly protected for life to flourish once again

Dozens of politicians have already committed to support action to deliver a thriving ocean. We now urge all MPs to take our pledge. Together we must protect and restore our ocean. The time for action is now.”

Within the #GenerationSea campaign, thousands of members of the public have already signed and added their names to the petition to urge the Government to take stronger action.

And with more than 1200 schools around the country going plastic-free in the last year alone, as well as hundreds of communities landing ‘Plastic Free Community’ status, the support demonstrates the public’s dedication to protecting the environment on a local level.

The growing list of pledges also comes just days after SAS took its ‘unknown sea creature’ to Parliament, along with a team of campaigners, to send a powerful message to Government that ocean life is choking on plastic and dying from global heating.

The 15ft ‘creature’ recently featured in one of the charity’s campaign films, which was watched by more than a quarter of a million people and brought to life the unprecedented effects human action is having on the world’s oceans – even on species yet to be discovered.

The fight isn’t over, though, and, with your help, MPs can still pledge to show their support to the #GenerationSea campaign.

To encourage your MP to pledge, visit our website and sign your name here, where you can also see the MPs already taking action.

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