When the Commonwealth heads of government met in London recently, one of the themes running through all the meetings was the efforts which must be made to deal with what the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs described as “the global scourge of plastic”. Whilst many of the smaller nations may not produce great volumes of waste themselves, many of the maritime countries are affected by the way that single use plastics end up in the seas.
Such plastics also end up in our rivers and with a constituency which is bordered by the River Thames I am sure many constituents will have seen plastic waste floating in our rivers, where it can ultimately end up in the ocean.
Changing the way that people think about the way we generate plastic waste can have an effect and there was a round table meeting during the conference which looked at the way waste is generated during leisure activities. People going to major sporting events, for instance, may go home not knowing that these gatherings leave behind up to 750,000 plastic bottles or seven tonnes of waste.
On 5 June, which is World Environment Day, sports organisations are going to work with the United Nations environment teams to reduce what is called “the plastic footprint”.
There are many summer events coming up on a much smaller scale but individuals can make a difference by equipping themselves with reusable water bottles and drinking cups. It goes without saying that everybody should make an effort to recycle plastic bottles, but collectively we also need to reduce the use of single use plastics.
The government is going to consult later this year about ending the use of plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds with plastic stems. Banning their sale (except for medical use) would help to protect our rivers and seas and reduce the amount of plastic which ends up in our oceans.
This article first appeared in the Bucks Advertiser on 3rd May 2018.