Nearly 100 communities in the United Kingdom are looking to become certified as plastic free with a recently launched initiative. Surfers Against Sewage has given the rural area of Penzance, Cornwall, the first award for being a “Plastic Free Coastline” community. In order to achieve the certification, communities must complete five guidelines which include the elimination of single-use plastic and educating others on plastic pollution.
All of this falls under the SAS “Wasteland” campaign, which raises awareness for how much plastic is in our oceans. Much of our plastic waste isn’t recycled, and it ends up floating down rivers and landing into oceans. Surface winds eventually sends these to gyres, where they build up and become a hazard for wildlife in these waters.
The biggest focus the campaign has is removing single-use plastics, like bottles, straws, and utensils. The UK uses 38.5 million plastic bottles per day and just over half of it gets recycled. Plastic forks and spoons can easily end up in the trash due to how little can be recycled and food contamination. In many cases, these products have better alternatives or can be avoided altogether.
SAS has collaborated with Penzance, a town with a population of around 21,000 people, in many areas to help achieve this certification. Their town council motioned for support on December 4th and has aggressively pursued the guidelines. 13 businesses removed at least three single-use plastic options and replaced them with alternatives or eliminated them entirely.
“It’s vital that we stop plastic pollution at source to protect our oceans and beaches, and we hope the...Plastic Free Coastlines Community movement will continue to grow around the world.” Hugo Tagholm, CEO of Surfers Against Sewage, said in the announcement. “Congratulations to Penzance for being the first community to achieve the official status!”
The announcement comes after the conclusion of a new BBC documentary series, Blue Planet II. At a launch party in October, producer David Attenborough was openly frustrated that society could be limiting their use of plastic, but choose not to. While we don’t know how much this pollution will affect our well-being, it’s created deadly environments for sea life and has contaminated over 90 percent of water samples in the United States.
Close to 100 communities have now been listed on SAS’ website that are hoping to reach certification. By 2020, they hope to have 125 plastic free communities. Major cities like Birmingham, Glasgow, and Oxford are on the list. It’s easy for anyone to sign up for the campaign and to receive an action plan for guidance. This will help form a steering group that will get local businesses involved to cut down on single-use plastics and turn toward eco-friendly products.