Tackling single-use plastics

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Plastic is a very durable material and can last for hundreds of years. Yet, up to half of all plastic items are designed to be used just once, often for a matter of minutes or hours. When it is not disposed of properly, plastic pollution can have a serious impact on the environment, entering the oceans and potentially harming marine wildlife.

In 2018, DEFRA published its 25-Year Environment Plan which outlined the Government’s commitment to eliminating avoidable plastic waste by 2042. Ipswich Borough Council is committed to taking responsibility for its own impact on the environment and society.

What are we doing?

In January 2019, Ipswich Borough Council passed a motion confirming the Council’s commitment to reducing plastic waste by eliminating avoidable single-use plastics (SUPs) across its services, offices, green spaces and events.

We conducted an audit of all our avoidable SUPs at our main headquarters, in our parks and green spaces and at our events and replaced our avoidable SUPs with sustainable or reusable alternatives, while also ensuring we maximise our opportunities to recycle what we cannot eliminate and utilise any opportunities to recycle new materials wherever possible.

Some of the changes we have made include:

  • Replacing disposable plastic cups with reusable polycarbonate glasses in our meeting spaces and in our venues;
  • Replacing water coolers with mains-fed water chillers;
  • Working with our suppliers to identify how they can support us in eliminating SUPs;
  • Working with our events partners to identify how we can reduce SUPs at our events, as well as trialling new recycling stations at our events to increase the amount of plastic that is recycled and not incinerated;
  • Swapped plastic-bottled milk for glass-bottled milk;
  • Made changes to our stationery provision to swap to non-plastic alternatives;
  • Stopped the use of plastic tree guards in our parks and open spaces where possible;
  • Swapped single use cable ties for reusable alternatives where possible.

The changes we will be implementing from this project will help us save over 8000 kilograms of plastic every year. Over 5 years, the reduction in Single Use Plastic will equate to more than 40,000 kilograms. If this plastic were laid out end to end, it would stretch over 404,200 metres; almost the length of the Grand Canyon! 

Read our Reducing Single Use Plastic report.

What can you do?

As individuals, there are also a few simple steps that we can all take to cut down the amount of single-use plastics we use. Even small changes can make a big difference. Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Use a reusable water bottle. One reusable bottle can replace 100s of single-use bottles. Check out www.refill.org.uk to find water refill stations near you;
  • Use a reusable hot drinks cup when you visit your local coffee shop. Aside from the plastic lid, the cups themselves are often lined with plastic;
  • Don't use straws unless you need to or use paper or reusable straws instead;
  • When shopping, take reusable bags;
  • Use refill services at local shops for cleaning products and dried goods - find a refill shop using Suffolk's online directory
  • Use your own cutlery or sustainable alternatives when on the go;
  • Refuse single-use condiment sachets;
  • Buy fruit and vegetables without plastic wrappers;
  • Use reusable containers for food leftovers at home;
  • Pack lunch in reusable containers rather than using cling film;
  • Consider beeswax wraps in place of cling film. You can purchase these from Holywells Park;
  • Use reusable fabric napkins instead of paper ones (which are often wrapped in plastic).

There is a growing number of resources available online to help you reduce the number of single use plastics in your daily life. Here are some examples:

It is important that we try to reduce as many single-use plastics as we can. But we should also try to ensure we recycle what we cannot avoid using. In Ipswich, plastic pots, tubs and trays and bottles can be recycled. You can find out more about what plastics can be recycled here.

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Contact Details

Ipswich Borough Council,
Grafton House,
15-17 Russell Road,

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01473 432000