Monmouthshire County Council is taking steps to reduce the unnecessary use of plastic.  The council’s Strong Communities Select Committee met recently and heard from officers and plastic-free community groups based in Abergavenny, Chepstow and Monmouth about the damage that single-use plastics inflict on the environment, in addition to blighting communities with litter.

The committee has recommended that the council should agree to work towards accreditation as one of the first plastic-free counties, endorsed by environmental charity Surfers against Sewage.  The next meeting of the county council is on Thursday 21st June.

The committee has proposed that Monmouthshire County Council will:

  • Make a commitment to work toward plastic-free status
  • Review its own use of single-use plastics and take steps to identify and reduce unnecessary use of plastic
  • Support voluntary and community action to reduce plastic use and undertake such activities as litter picks
  • Work with schools, businesses and other partners to reduce plastic use
  • Work with organisers of events on council property to reduce single-use plastics to a minimum (and ensure that effective recycling for necessary plastics is in place)
  • Participate in meetings to support and co-ordinate plastic-free activities across the county.

A huge increase in interest in reducing the use of single-use plastics has been sparked recently, not least by shocking scenes of maritime contamination shown on the BBC’s Blue Planet series.  Single-use plastics use precious fossil fuels, take hundreds of years to break down, injure wildlife on land and at sea, blight the landscape, block drains and cost heavily to buy, clear up and dispose of.

As well as work at national government level in Wales and the UK, and in supermarkets and the packaging industry, much is happening locally.  Plastic-free community groups have started across Monmouthshire this year, and all report huge levels of support from the public.  These enthusiastic volunteers are working with local businesses, town councils, schools and others to reduce plastic use in their communities.

The county council has begun discussions about purchases from catering suppliers and how it can reduce the use of disposable plastic items.  It has also approached other partners.  For example, Coleg Gwent, which shares a site with the council in Usk, has committed to reducing plastic use in its canteens.

Chair of the Strong Communities Select Committee, Councillor Jane Pratt said: “It is great to hear about the passion and hard work in our towns to tackle this important issue.  It’s vital that the council and community groups work closely in partnership to maximise their efforts to reduce plastic use in the county.”