Expel single-use plastics from school, urges UK Education Secretary
03 Jan 2019 --- UK Education Secretary Damian Hinds has urged schools to eradicate single-use plastics by 2022 and find more sustainable alternatives to items such as straws, bags and bottles. Hinds wants pupils to be made aware of the scourge of plastic pollution while Surfers Against Sewage believes that schools have the power to incentivize suppliers to produce more eco-friendly packaging.
“On my first school visit as education secretary almost a year ago, the very first question I was asked by a pupil was what we can do to limit the damage of plastic on the environment,” Hinds comments. “Reducing our use of plastic clearly is an important and timely issue which has captured the interest and the imagination of everyone in society.”
Georgeham primary in Devon became the first UK school to be recognized as “plastic-free” by Surfers Against Sewage after eliminating several single-use plastic items from use. Notably, the school now has milk supplied in recyclable containers while the children drink the milk from reusable beakers. Previously, the milk was packaged in unrecyclable cartons with plastic straws attached by plastic wrappers.
“The leadership shown by schools like Georgeham primary in going single-use plastic-free is an impressive example for us all and I want every school in the country following their lead by 2022,” continues Hinds.
“It’s not always easy but we all have a role to play in driving out avoidable plastic waste, and with more schools joining others and leading by example, we can help to leave our planet in a better state than we found it,” he says.
“By making relatively minor changes such as replacing clingfilm for foil in the canteen we were able to significantly reduce our plastic use in the school,” adds Georgeham primary Head Teacher Julian Thomas. “We’re a small school but we think big.”
Thomas says that his pupils are enthusiastic about minimizing plastic pollution while the UK Department for Education references research which shows that 68 percent of 18-24-year-olds make use of a reusable water bottle, compared to the national average of 55 percent.
In related news, the UK government has launched a consultation to increase the 5p plastic bag charge to 10p and extend the scheme to all retailers, which could into effect in 2020. At the Autumn Budget, the Chancellor announced a tax on plastic packaging which does not contain a minimum of 30 percent recycled content, subject to consultation, from April 2022. Meanwhile, manufacturers will have to foot the bill for recycling or the disposal of their own waste as part of UK government’s Resources and Waste Strategy.
In European news, following months of negotiations, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU have reached a provisional agreement on ambitious new single-use plastic measures proposed in May and identified the 10 types of single-use plastics that will be banned under the EU’s Plastics Strategy.
By Joshua Poole
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