Caerphilly town has been deemed a Plastic Free Community thanks to the efforts of a dedicated group of volunteers.
Plastic Free Caerphilly, a group comprising local businesses and concerned residents supported by Caerphilly Friends of the Earth, started the campaign last year but now wants to spread its efforts to other towns and villages across the county borough.
The town has been awarded Plastic Free Community status by marine conservation charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) in recognition of the work it has done to start reducing the impact of single-use plastic on the environment.
Plastic Free Caerphilly decided to raise awareness of plastic pollution and to actively encourage businesses, schools, local organisations and individuals in the local area to reduce their use of single use plastic.
Registering with the SAS Plastic Free Communities movement, Plastic Free Caerphilly pulled together key organisations and businesses in the town to put in place a five-point plan.
The objectives included: setting up a community-led steering group, instigating the SAS Plastic Free Schools education programme, getting local council commitment and working with local businesses, organisations and community groups to spread the word and minimise the amount of disposable plastics they use.
Claire Lukins from Plastic Free Caerphilly, who runs Plant2Plate on Cardiff Road, said: “We’re delighted that Caerphilly has been awarded plastic free community status, which is due to the tremendous commitment and perseverance of residents and shops including Plant2Plate, the Vegan Box and Tyfu.
“Many businesses in the Caerphilly area have replaced single-use plastic bottles, glasses, cutlery straws and trays with reusable alternatives and some shops are offering a water refill service, so customers can refill their reusable water bottles for free.
“The Old Library, The Deli, S Jones Fruit and Veg, Y Galeri Caerffili, Glanmors Bakery, 420 Head Shop and the Caerphilly Visitors’ Centre are just some of the businesses in the town centre that have become plastic free champions.
“Outside the town centre, businesses that have obtained their plastic free status include Rusty’s Ice Cream Parlour, Miss B Pantry, Bedwas Rugby Club, Mountain View Ranch and a department of Caerphilly County Borough Council.
”A Big Unwrap event at Caerphilly Asda helped to raise awareness of the impact of single-use plastic. Customers were encouraged to unwrap their groceries and hand back their plastic packaging to the store.
“Plastic Free Caerphilly also organised a litter pick in Bryn Meadows with the Caerphilly Adventure Group, and an event to engage school age children at Caerphilly Library.
“Caerphilly has a growing number of schools with plastic free status including The Twyn School, Plas y Felin, St James Primary, Ysgol Gymraeg Caerffili, Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg y Castell and Bedwas High School.
“The town council has passed a resolution supporting the campaign.
“We are proud of the fact that our town has got plastic free community status but we realise it is only the first step in our ongoing journey to reduce single-use plastic in Caerphilly. We encourage any local businesses and organisations who would like to become a plastic free champion to get in touch.
“Thank you Surfers Against Sewage for your fantastic support and also Friends of the Earth Cymru for their input and advice.”
The Surfers Against Sewage Plastic Free Community network aims to free the places where we live from single-use. Using the five point plan the aim is to empower communities to kick-start local grassroots action, which can then be built upon.
Rachel Yates, SAS Plastic Free Communities Project Officer, said: “It’s great to see the work that Caerphilly has done to reduce the availability of avoidable plastics, raise awareness and encourage people to refill and reuse.”
The group is looking to replicate its success in other towns across Caerphilly County Borough.
Rhys James, a procurement officer at Caerphilly County Borough, has helped to reduce single-use plastic in the local authority. He has been working with town centre management groups to find individuals to take on the cause in their respective areas.
If you are interested in helping the fight against plastic, visit www.facebook.com/plasticfreecaerphilly.