social media icons, twitter icon 

Ards and North Down Council bans single use plastics

More than 700 items of rubbish have been collected across every 100 metres of Northern Ireland beach in September 2017 alone.

But one council is now leading the way on the single use plastics plaguing our beaches, seas and outdoor spaces with a ban.

Ards and North Down Borough Council adopted the motion on plastics from Green Party councillors Rachel Woods and John Barry in November 2017. In it they called on colleagues to recognise the importance of reducing waste, our increased reliance on plastic and the amount of plastic that ends up in our oceans and on our beaches.

Councillors were also asked to support an “end to use of single use plastics” and for the council to promote eco-friendly alternatives across the borough.

A spokesperson for Ards and North Down said: “Council officers will be looking at the best way of implementing this decision and will report back to council in due course.”

Now the Green Party is calling on every council in Northern Ireland to follow suit. A spokesperson said they hope it will get people thinking about the use of single use plastics.

A Razorbill duck tangled up in plasticsCouncillor Woods said she was shocked by the results of the annual beach survey by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) which recorded a 10% rise in litter in 2017, much of it plastic. MCS volunteers who took part in September’s Great British Beach Clean collected an average of 718 pieces of rubbish every 100 metres. In Northern Ireland is was slightly lower with an average of 701 items per 100m, which is an improvement but still puts us at the second worst levels for beach litter in the UK.

The charity says it’s time for a levy on single-use items that are handed over, free of charge, in their millions when we’re eating and drinking out and about. It says the levy should be imposed on such items as straws, cups, lids, stirrers and cutlery.

Lizzie Prior, MCS Beach and River Clean Project Officer, said: “The 5p single-use carrier bag charge has made a massive difference to the number of plastic bags entering our seas.

“If a levy was placed on single use plastic such as straws, stirrers, cutlery, cups and cup lids, we’re confident that we’d find fewer of these items on our beaches.”

Head of communications for the Marine Conservation Society, Richard Harrington, added: “Northern Ireland’s beaches are strewn with too much litter and marine wildlife will continue to suffer until we address this massive pollution problem.

“We can all make a difference, by refusing unnecessary packaging, and calling on governments and businesses to put a stop to the tide of plastic.”

In Ards and North Down they will be changing plastics such as throwaway cutlery and straws for more environmentally friendly alternatives such as wood and biodegradable materials.

“It is estimated that 50% of the plastic that we use is only used once before being thrown away,” said Cllr Woods.

“Plastics can remain in the ocean for hundreds of years in their original form and even longer in small particles.

“The best research currently available estimates that there are over 150 million tonnes of plastic waste in the ocean today.

“We have all seen the news articles, videos and pleas be it plastic bags inside the stomach of a whale in Norway, microbeads being swallowed by fish, various plastic items being consumed by birds, a straw being removed from the nostril of a sea turtle.

“Our obsession with single use plastics has to come to an end,” she added.

“Councils can lead by example in this, and others can follow, making a huge difference for the future.”

Read more