Plymouth achieves UK city district first as Plastic Free Waterfront as it launches ambitious plan to tackle single use plastics


On the same day that Plymouth becomes the first UK city district to announce its accreditation with ‘Plastic Free Communities’ status for its iconic waterfront, a major new plan to tackle single use plastics and plastic pollution in Plymouth is being launched by key partners in the city.

The Plan For Plastics, which is being officially launched at The Dome in the spectacular setting of Plymouth’s Hoe on Friday 8 June, is a partnership plan developed by members of the Plymouth, Britain’s Ocean City Plastics Taskforce.

The launch comes during a week of action on plastics in Plymouth, in which the city has hosted major events such as an International Marine Park Conference, the launch of citywide initiatives including reusable plastic bottles and cups, as well as a series of smaller events to tackle plastic litter such as beach cleans and litter picks.

The Plymouth Plastic Free Communities accreditation issued by charity Surfers Against Sewage is the first to be awarded to a city waterfront district in the UK and marks the first step towards the delivery of the citywide Plan for Plastics.

The announcement comes after the application, led by Environment Plymouth, and supported by the Plymouth Waterfront Partnership, Plymouth City Council and the National Marine Aquarium, secured 70 business pioneers and 50 community ambassadors who have all pledged to give up at least three single use plastic items such as straws, cups or cutlery, as well as making other pledges to reduce single use plastics. It doesn’t mean that plastic has been eliminated completely or that it’s banned. It means that a huge step has been taken towards preventing future damage.

There are four main principles in the Plan For Plastics, which are:

  • Avoid – encouraging residents to avoid single use plastics, and to find alternatives such as reusable coffee cups
  • Recycle – continue to work to increase recycling rates in Plymouth
  • Innovate – support academic and industry led research into plastic free alternatives.
  • Connect – developing an education programme to encourage people to visit and connect with the natural environment.

The Plan For Plastics is available to download at plymouth.gov.uk/plastics

Rachel Yates, Plastic Free Communities Liaison Officer at Surfers Against Sewage, said: “We’re so pleased to add Plymouth Waterfront to our growing list of Plastic Free Approved Communities. We have 300 communities across the UK working towards the status and Plymouth is the first city to make a major inroad into tackling single use plastics and the impact they have on our environment.

“The application from the Plymouth team was very strong and shows an ongoing commitment, not just from the community and businesses in the Waterfront area, but also across the rest of the city. We look forward to seeing how this develops and one day hope to award Plastic Free Communities status to Plymouth as a whole!”

More than 70 business pioneers and 50 community ambassadors have committed to reducing single use plastics.

Councillor Tudor Evans, OBE, Leader of Plymouth City Council, said: “Our Council is committed to working with all partners in the city to reducing the use of single use plastics in Plymouth, Britain’s Ocean City, including innovative new approaches such as the trialling of a seabin to collect plastics and other solid waste from the sea. The fact we have now been awarded with Plastic Free Waterfront status shows that we already have a great network of people and organisations in the city who are genuinely committed to this issue.

“It’s been fantastic to see the level of engagement across the city during this week of action on plastics. We want to build on that momentum, the newly announced status, and the launch of the Plan for Plastics, which has been developed by so many enthusiastic and committed local partners is the first step towards helping us all achieve our aims.”

Penny Tarrant, Chair of Environment Plymouth and Co-Chair of the Britain’s Ocean City Taskforce said: “Environment Plymouth is a network of over 70 organisations from all sectors, plus individuals, working together to offer a unified and independent voice for strategic environmental and sustainability concerns in the city, so it was only right for us to take action on the challenge of tackling single-use-plastics. The Working Group which was created to lead on the SAS accreditation has worked very hard and is delighted with the result just six months after our very first marine plastics meeting in December 2017.

“We are delighted to play our part on Britain’s Ocean City Plastics Taskforce, alongside the council and other city organisations, to help deliver the wider Plan for Plastics. It’s great to see everyone pulling together for such a worthwhile goal. We can draw on an amazing amount of expertise in Plymouth, as well as passion and commitment. Harnessing all that will lead to a greener, healthier city by the sea for all of us and the marine inhabitants too.”

Sarah Gibson, Waterfront Manager and Chief Executive of the Plymouth Waterfront Partnership said “We are absolutely delighted that Surfers Against Sewage have recognised the Plymouth Waterfront community’s efforts to remove single-use plastics from circulation. A true collaboration between Environment Plymouth, the Plymouth Waterfront Partnership and the National Marine Aquarium enabled a community-led submission to win the accolade and we are extremely proud of this achievement. As the UK’s first city district to win this distinction, we’re keen to continue to influence the wider community and encourage other destinations to follow suit to challenge continued use of single-use plastics.”

Professor Richard Thompson OBE, Head of the International Marine Litter Research Unit at the University of Plymouth, said: “Plymouth is known all over the world for its research on marine litter, and it is fantastic to see the city taking such a proactive stance on this topic. One of the messages we always try to get across is that while this is a global problem, everyone has a part to play in helping to reduce the quantity of plastic waste they generate and to minimise the release of plastic to the ocean. The measures set out in this plan and the partners involved across the city help place Plymouth at the forefront, not just in terms of its research but also its actions to help stem the tide on plastic waste.”

Plymouth’s ambitious Plan for Plastics is launched on the same day as new status is announced.

Councillor Sue Dann, Cabinet Member for Street Scene and the Environment, said: “I’m so impressed with the way partners in the city have pulled together to help achieve this status, and we need to now build on that momentum. A plastics taskforce was recently launched in the city to look at this very issue, which was highlighted in the Blue Planet 2 programme.

“We can all do more to protect our environment, and that is why we will be launching the city’s Plan for Plastics at a special event on World Ocean Day.”

Roger Maslin, CEO of the National Marine Aquarium, said: “As a marine conservation and education charity our focus is to connect people with our Oceans. The Oceans are vitally important to the health of our planet and it is becoming increasingly important for people to understand the effects of plastics on them. It’s fantastic to see people making pro-Ocean behaviour changes and the increasing awareness of their responsibility to care for this vital resource. We are extremely proud of the achievement of a ‘plastic free waterfront’ and we are looking forward to playing our part in tackling the quantity of single use plastics used in Plymouth and further beyond.”

For more information visit plymouth.gov.uk/plastics or search #PlasticsPledgePlym on Facebook and Twitter

Plymouth Britain’s Ocean City Taskforce

The Britain’s Ocean City Taskforce has been created to drive the delivery of the new Plan for Plastics. The collaboration of partners and organisations, includes Plymouth City Council, Environment Plymouth, Plymouth Waterfront Partnership, the National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, the Marine Biological Association, University of Plymouth, Redrok, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Babcock, Plymouth Community Homes, the Environment Agency and South West Water.

This press release is issued jointly by Environment Plymouth, Plymouth Waterfront Partnership and Plymouth City Council on behalf of the Britain’s Ocean City Plastics Taskforce