Council gives its backing to make Lyme Regis a ‘plastic free’ town
LYME Regis has declared a war on waste with the council this week giving its official backing to plans to become a ‘plastic free’ town.
Eco-group Turn Lyme Green will lead the campaign, with the aim of receiving the ‘plastic free’ accolade from Surfers Against Sewage – the leading organisation in the national drive to reduce plastic waste ending up in our seas.
The organisation is hoping to create 125 ‘plastic free’ coastal communities by 2020, with towns such as Penzance in Cornwall already holding the title.
To become ‘plastic free’, Lyme Regis would have to meet a number of conditions, and the first is to have the support of the local council, which should “lead by example” in cutting down the amount of single-use plastic items it uses.
Having already given their initial support to the idea in recent weeks, councillors at this week’s Tourism, Community & Publicity Committee have their official backing, after member Richard Doney presented a report on what the ‘plastic free’ campaign would entail.
In his report, he said: “No town will ever be literally ‘plastic free’. Plastic is embedded in our everyday lives to an extent that it cannot be eliminated in the foreseeable future.
“However, steps can be taken to reduce the amount of plastic materials we use, particularly single-use plastic objects, such as bottled water, cutlery, cups, bags and straws.
“Simple changes in habits can improve our environment with both individuals and businesses practising the four Rs – refuse, refill, reuse and recycle.”
Speaking at the meeting, Councillor Doney added that going ‘plastic free’ could also help boost tourism.
“It’s not to do with our personal views, it’s about getting our name out in front in an area which is getting a lot of attention at the moment. It’s another way of selling the town.”
As well as having the council’s support, Turn Lyme Green will also have to work with local businesses to remove single-use plastic items and replace them with sustainable alternatives before Lyme Regis could be declared ‘plastic free’.
It is also required to gain community support through voluntary organisations and schools, organising community events to promote the initiative and setting up a steering group to drive the scheme.
Already on track
Councillor Doney said that Lyme Regis was already on the road to achieving the objectives set by Surfers Against Sewage, as it already held regular beach cleans and businesses were already taking an interest in going ‘plastic free’ and joining the ReFill scheme, meaning they offer free refills of customers’ water bottles.
Lyme Regis Baptist Church has also achieved a silver eco-award and two art projects are planned for the holiday season to raise awareness and inspire visitors and residents to support the campaign.
A steering group set up by Turn Lyme Green will take the project forward and this will be made up of residents, businesses, the fishing community, voluntary organisations, schools and churches, as well as a town councillor.
Councillor Doney reported that the campaign would not cost the council anything, and that Turn Lyme Green were applying for a grant for the scheme. He added that the cost to local businesses in switching to eco-friendly products was not yet known, but prices of such products were expected to drop as the demand for them increased.
Chairman of the Tourism, Community & Publicity Committee, Councillor Cheryl Reynolds, said the project had her “full support”.
“It’s really important for the town. Surfers Against Sewage are big news everywhere; if they will give us this accolade that’s really good for everyone – businesses, residents and visitors.”
Councillor Brian Larcombe also backed the scheme, saying he hoped it would also take into account the amount of waste taken to landfill. He suggested that conditions could be put on the town council’s licensees to be ‘plastic free’ and that the council should encourage events that it supports to also support the campaign.
Turn Lyme Green has said it hopes the ‘plastic free’ campaign will boost pride in the community and have a positive effect on tourism.
Going green is ‘good for business’
The organisation will now be holding a meeting on Tuesday, March 13 for local businesses and organisations to have an open discussion on the practicalities and businesses of ‘going green’.
Chris Boothroyd of Turn Lyme Green said: “This is an opportunity to share experiences, ask questions and swap ideas to work together to improve and protect our environment to benefit our residents, business and visitors – so important in our seaside community with the high season fast approaching.”
Turn Lyme Green wants to congratulate those local businesses who feel strongly about protecting our environment and are responding to customers who are also looking for environmentally-friendly solutions to use of plastics and improved recycling.
“Local businesses are joining schemes to stop using single-use plastics and some have already achieved awards for eco business and tourism. Eighteen local business support the ReFill scheme, which provides free top ups for refillable water bottles.”
The meeting will be held at the Driftwood Café at Lyme Regis Baptist Church at 7.15pm for a 7.30pm start and all are welcome to attend.
Anyone interested in helping achieve success for this project is encouraged to get in touch with Turn Lyme Green by emailing chairman Jo Smith Oliver on firstname.lastname@example.org visit the website www.turnlymegreen.co.uk