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Two Osbaston pupils holding a sign that says 'Polar Bearsa matre, save them!
Osbaston pupils presented a petition to Save the Polar Bears

Photos: Pupils from Osbaston CiW School meet Council Leader, Cllr. Mary Ann Brocklesby.

Two pupils from Osbaston CiW School in Monmouth have presented a ‘Save the Polar Bears’ petition to Monmouthshire County Council’s Place Scrutiny Meeting. The petition was signed by pupils from the primary school who want to see the end of single-use plastics to help address the climate emergency.

The pupils, Charlotte and Ffion, stood in the Council Chamber and read their petition to the Cabinet, to Councillors representing wards across the county and to officers from across the Council.

Osbaston pupils accompanied by a parent from the school, with Council Leader Cllr. Mary Ann Brocklesby (centre) in the Council Chamber

Council Leader, Cllr. Mary Ann Brocklesby, spent time with the pupils prior to the meeting discussing their petition and praising their commitment to working to help the environment: “I have so much admiration for Ffion and Charlotte. They want to take a stand and make a difference, and that should be encouraged and supported. They are right to feel strongly about protecting the planet, and to want to make a better future by demanding changes are made to help the environment.”

Chair of the Place Scrutiny Committee, Cllr. Lisa Dymock said: “It takes a huge amount of courage to present to a Council Chamber full of people – Ffion and Charlotte did a terrific job and should be incredibly proud of themselves. They clearly, and rightly, feel strongly about the harm being done by single use plastics, and want to make a difference, which is admirable. Their speech was compelling and very inspiring.”

Cllr. Catrin Maby, Cabinet Member for Climate Change and the Environment, said: “Our young people are right to be worried about issues such as single use plastic and the impact it has on the environment. They want a future where species such as polar bears are thriving and not facing extinction, where our seas are not filled with microplastics, where there is hope for all of us. I would like to thank the pupils at Osbaston primary school for getting involved and speaking out.”

Monmouthshire County Council pledged in June 2018 to work towards becoming a plastic free county as supported by Surfers Against Sewage. This means it has and will continue to reduce single use and unnecessary plastics to an absolute minimum and also supporting the many community groups who are also working hard to make their places plastic free.

Some of the work that Monmouthshire County Council has undertaken to help reduce single use plastics has included:

  • Changing from small 1/3 pint plastic bottles for school milk to glass bottles from Raglan Dairy (saving 437,000 plastic bottles every year!)
  • Reducing the use of throwaway pink and purple plastic recycling bags and changing to reusable bags for recycling, saving plastic and money.
  • Replaced all disposable cups in County Hall with reusable mugs and glasses for meetings.
  • Stopped buying little single milk cartons and plastic stirrers.
  • Most Libraries and leisure centres are now Refill stations where you can refill your reusable water bottle.
  • All of the money from Welsh Government for period products to give out in schools and community buildings has been spent on plastic free and reusable products to reduce plastic waste.
  • Hosting events and stalls encouraging people to reduce plastic use, such as at the Usk Show and other community events.
  • Encouraging people to choose reusable partyware, and ask takeaways not to use plastic packaging.
  • Encouraged a ban on releasing balloons or lanterns from any events on Council property.
  • Supporting litter picking volunteers and groups, and establishing litter picking hubs across the county where people can borrow litter picking kit.
  • Helping schools that want to learn more about the environment and what happens to their waste.
  • Establishing a ‘libraries of things’ where people can borrow things like garden tools, picnic ware etc to reduce waste and Repair Cafés where people can get things fixed.

Monmouthshire County Council thanked Ffion and Charlotte, and Osbaston school, for championing the reduction of plastics in the county and for highlighting the importance of safeguarding the future for polar bears. Cllr. Catrin Maby will be responding formally to the pupils to set out what the Council is currently doing to reduce single use plastics and its future plans.

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