28 September 2016
Last night a motion, proposed by Green Party councillors calling on Norwich City Council to go ‘single-use-plastic-free’, was passed unanimously.
The motion, proposed by Councillor Martin Schmierer, would see the council end all provision of single-use plastic items such as cups and bottles in its buildings, while also encouraging market traders and pop-up food and drink vendors at city events to avoid plastic cutlery and containers.
Councillor Ben Price, who seconded the motion, said:
“More and more studies are showing that the impact of plastic waste on the planet is even bigger and more destructive than we realised. In the space of just a few decades, we have covered every corner of the earth with plastic waste. Its impact on the oceans is particularly shocking.
"On top of that, it’s becoming increasingly clear that some of the chemicals in plastics are harmful to people too.
“A lot of the most common plastic items such as bottles and bags are used for just a few minutes and then thrown away – but that plastic is there for ever. Virtually every bit of plastic ever made still exists. That’s a terrifying thought.
“Our culture of convenience has gone too far, and it’s time to do what we can locally to turn things around.”
Councillor Schmierer added:
“I think a lot of people feel discouraged by the size of the problem, and feel that their actions can’t make a difference – but they can. Only six months after the 5p charge for plastic bags was introduced, bag use had already dropped by 85%. That shows how quickly change can happen.
"Everyone can make a difference, for example by buying a reusable water bottle or bringing your own containers to the market. We want to see Norwich City Council leading by example by becoming a pioneer, plastic-free city.”
Text of motion:
Reducing single-use plastic (SUP) use in Norwich
According to recent research, eight million metric tons of plastic waste ends up in the world’s oceans each year, endangering marine life. There is also a growing understanding of the risks posed to human health by toxic chemicals present in plastics.
Six months after the introduction of the 5p bag charge, use of single-use plastic bags had already dropped by 85%, while the TV programme Hugh’s War on Waste has raised public awareness of the problems of our throwaway culture. It is time for Norwich to take a lead on this issue.
Council RESOLVES to ask cabinet to:
1. develop a robust strategy to make Norwich City Council a ‘single-use-plastic-free’ authority by the end of 2017 and encourage the city’s institutions, businesses and citizens to adopt similar measures;
2. end the sale and provision of SUP products such as bottles, cups, cutlery and drinking straws in council buildings;
3. encourage traders on Norwich Market to sell re-usable containers and invite customers to bring their own, with the aim of phasing out single-use plastic containers and cutlery on market stalls by the end of 2017;
4. investigate the possibility of requiring pop-up food and drink vendors at large council events to avoid SUPs as a condition of their contract; and,
5. work with tenants in commercial properties owned by Norwich City Council to encourage the phasing out of SUP cups, bottles, cutlery and straws.
Some facts about plastic:
· Over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century
· 50 percent of the plastic we use, we use just once and throw away
· Billions of pounds of plastic can be found in swirling convergences in the oceans making up about 40 percent of the world’s ocean surfaces
· The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is located in the North Pacific Gyre off the coast of California and is the largest ocean garbage site in the world. This floating mass of plastic is twice the size of Texas, with plastic pieces outnumbering sea life six to one
· One million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed annually from plastic in our oceans.
· Chemicals added to plastics are absorbed by human bodies. Some of these compounds have been found to alter hormones or have other potential human health effects