Portsmouth granted Plastic Free Community status for 'incredible' environmental changes

OUR collective efforts to eradicate single-use plastics from our lives is paying dividends.

Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 7:00 am

Portsmouth has been awarded with Plastic Free Community status by Surfers Against Sewage, recognising the gargantuan effort that has been made to reduce the city’s plastic waste.

From campaigning for businesses to change their ways to keeping the seafront clear of waste, people have gone above and beyond to make a difference.

The collaborative work of Plastic Free Portsmouth, Southsea Beachwatch, the Final Straw Foundation and more has made the city the first Plastic Free Community in the Solent – and just the second in Hampshire, following Lymington.

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Environmental campaigners in Guildhall Square. Photograph taken before the Covid-19 pandemic. Picture: Pete Codline

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Clare Seek, who founded Plastic Free Portsmouth in 2018 after reducing plastic waste in her own home, is delighted that all the hard work has paid off.

She said: ‘It’s been great to see growth in the city’s passion for reducing single-use plastic over the past couple of years.

‘There has been a real breadth of effort from collecting litter and preventing it getting into our sea, through to education, changing habits and research into future solutions and stemming the flow at source.

‘Of course, this is just the start of the journey, but with so many individuals and organisations working together to imagine a different future for our planet, it’s great to have gained this recognition from Surfers Against Sewage of the effort put in to date.’

In order to achieve Plastic Free Community status, towns and cities must meet five criteria, including getting local council commitment, working with local businesses to reduce plastic waste and minimising the city’s disposable plastic use.

Since April 2018, The News has also been campaigning alongside the Final Straw Foundation, which has encouraged hundreds of businesses and organisations across Portsmouth to ditch single-use plastics for good.

Alongside these, Clare added that new environmentally-friendly businesses have entered the fold.

She said: ‘Small independents like Southsea Coffee and Feed have changed how they provide food and drink to customers, and we’ve also got new businesses emerging such as Package Free Larder which provides ways for people to buy food without needless packaging.

‘We’ve also seen bookshops, B&Bs, florists and tourist attractions rising to the challenge, each exploring different ways to package, display and promote their products and services, whilst treading more lightly on our planet.

‘We have also linked up with Final Straw Foundation and put pressure on external event organisations to make changes, such as the Great South Run, who started to reduce plastic used at the water stops and put in better recycling systems.’

The Surfers Against Sewage Plastic Free Community network aims to free the places where we live from single-use plastics, starting at a grassroots level.

Rachel Yates, the Plastic Free Communities project manager, said: ‘It’s great to see the work that Portsmouth has done to reduce the availability of avoidable plastics, raise awareness and encourage people to refill and reuse.

‘Every step communities and the individuals in them take is a step towards tackling the problem at source, challenging our throwaway culture and encouraging the habit and system changes we need to see.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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