Council urged to take the lead on single-use plastics

December 20 2017

A Full council motion to address the environmental impact of ‘single use’ drinking cups has passed with cross party support.

A Full council motion to address the environmental impact of ‘single use’ drinking cups has passed with cross party support. 

The motion was moved by Lib Dem Councillor Clare Campion-Smith with input from Green councillors Fi Hance and Martin Fodor. It calls on Bristol’s Labour Mayor to introduce a small charge on non-recyclable drinking cups provided at City Hall and other venues controlled by the Council, as well as lobbying central government for a charge at the national level which could be similar to the successful charge on plastic bags introduced in October 2015. 

‘Single-use’ plastics are so-called because they either cannot or are not designed to be recycled. These are things like plastic film wraps, straws, coffee stirrers, soda and water bottles and most food packaging. Most coffee cups sold in the UK are waterproofed by fusing the card with a plastic membrane which cannot then be extracted at most recycling plants. This means the coffee cups also take an extremely long time to biodegrade – as much as 30 years according to experts (2) – creating a mountain of waste for future generations.

Councillor Clare Campion-Smith said: “The problem of throw away plastic has grown steadily over the last few decades and we need to take action now in whatever way we can.  

“Councillors from all parties supported my motion which will ensure only recyclable cups are used in Council owned or controlled venues and a small charge will be levied on such cups to encourage people to have their drinks in reusable cups. We need the culture change that reusable cups are the norm and when single cups are necessary then they are fully recyclable. 

“Full agreement was a good way to end the Council meeting before Christmas!”

Councillor Martin Fodor, who started a petition on the Bristol City Council website to ban single use plastics, said: “Anyone who saw Blue Planet on Sunday evening would find it impossible to deny the evidence of the damage single use plastics are doing to our environment.

“At the moment we throw away a whopping 2.5 billion coffee cups a year – twenty five thousand tonnes of waste which mostly goes into landfill. Use of reusable – or at least recyclable – drinking cups has to be encouraged through gentle nudges like this.”

Councillor Fi Hance said: “Thanks are due to the Lib Dem councillors who allowed us to contribute to writing this motion without having to go through the lengthy amendment process in Full Council – it is an excellent, common sense green idea.