Plastic-reduction drive across St Albans district

St Albans council are moving away from single-use plastic. Picture: St Albans District Council

St Albans council are moving away from single-use plastic. Picture: St Albans District Council - Credit: Archant

A drive to reduce the amount of single-use plastic across the district is making an impact, the council says.

St Albans City and District Council has taken action to discourage the use of the environmentally-harmful product.

They made a commitment earlier this year to banning single-use plastics at council offices, facilities and events.

These included the removal of all plastic cups from their offices and a ban on Styrofoam from council-run events.

Styrofoam has also been largely phased out at St Albans market with only one trader still using it, and then only until their current stock runs out.

Traders have also been told that they have until the end of this year to use up any supplies they have of single-use plastics.

Single-use plastics will also be banned from this year's St Albans Food and Drink Street Feastival on Sunday, September 29.

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The council's food waste contractor Veolia has arranged to meet with local food businesses to discuss options for recyclable food containers at takeaways.

An information stall was recently set up at St Albans market to advise traders on alternatives to single-use plastic and educate the public about how to support the issue in their own homes.

It was also recommended that the council should work with its partner organisations, including schools and town and parish councils, on ways to cut down on plastic use.

This comes in the wake of the recent Extinction Rebellion Clock Tower protest, where campaigners said that not enough has been done since the council declared a climate emergency.

Councillor Annie Brewster, the chair of the Community, Environment and Sport Scrutiny Committee, said: "I am very impressed by the amount of work that is going on across the city and district to reduce single-use plastics.

"In particular, the response of our Charter Market traders has been incredibly positive. On speaking to stall holders, many have already removed or replaced unsuitable products and others are keenly sourcing alternative materials.

"The gold star must go to the Eat Wholefoods stall. For nearly 24 years I understand they have been using cellulose bags for all their products that, unlike normal plastic, break down within 12 months and can be composted in garden bins.

"They also offer eco-refill facilities for olive oil, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, hand wash, toilet cleaner washing up liquid, laundry liquid and fabric conditioner.

The Herts Ad spoke to some local reducing plastic campaigning organisations to see what they thought of the council's drive to protect the environment.

Plastic Free St Albans campaigner Amanda Yorwerth said: "We welcome efforts to reduce the use of single use plastic, particularly if they encourage their replacement with reusable substitutes.

"We all own reusable bags now and can already help this along by offering them to market traders when we make our purchase."

Plastic Free St Albans is an alliance of local people concerned about their impact on the environment, who are working together to reduce the usage of single use plastics in St Albans.

Emma Snoxell of The Refill Pantry said: "We are thrilled that the council are phasing out single use plastic in all their offices and street markets.

"We would urge the council to urgently consider building an industrial composter to process all the compostable alternatives as these cannot currently be put in any St Albans recycling or green bins and without this facility these alternatives to single-use plastic can only be placed in landfill bins."

Sustainable St Albans is a group of people from the district who want to make it a more environmentally sustainable place to live.

Trustee Gail Jackson said: "The new council initiatives look serious, and it will be brilliant to see the market going plastic-free which will help local people reduce their use of single-use plastic, especially unnecessary plastic-based take-away cups and plastic bags.

"We welcome the moves to support local businesses dealing with their recyclable food containers.

"Sustainable St Albans has been helping raise awareness of this problem locally, with its partner Plastic Free St Albans and council support to help reduce this unnecessary waste is very welcome."