Wilmslow awarded plastic-free community status as it takes action on single-use plastic


Wilmslow has been awarded 'Plastic Free Community' status by marine conservation charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) in recognition of the work he town has done to start reducing the impact of single-use plastic on the environment.

Local volunteers started the campaign last year after the screening of Blue Planet II and sensing the local concern about the impact of inappropriately discarded plastic products.

Ruth Menlove and Andrew Backhouse worked with Wilmslow Town Council to set up a steering group to register with the SAS Plastic Free Communities movement and deliver on their five point action plan. This included getting the local council's commitment and working with local businesses, schools, organisations and community groups to spread the word and minimise the amount of disposable plastics they use.

Ruth Menlove said "From the outset, it was clear that we were pushing at an open door. We found an enthusiasm in the local community – from organisations both large and small – and from the general public to help drive the project forward. Most businesses in Wilmslow appeared sensitive to environmental issues in general and to recycling and reduced plastic use in particular. For example, the Information Commission removed waste bins previously placed beside every desk each lined with a plastic bag, cleared daily. Now it has central waste collection points that are segregated by recyclables."

The group has run three plastic free stalls and two public meetings at which suggestions for individual action were promoted. Wilmslow High School persuaded 6th Form students to save all their plastic waste from lunch one day to make a powerful demonstration of the sheer volume of plastic consumed by them. The Plastic Free Group also staged plastic unwraps at the Wilmslow supermarkets.

Andrew Backhouse commented "We're delighted that the efforts of local organisations have been formally recognised with this award. We will be using it as a vehicle on which to encourage even more to join the movement. We can already see very positive steps throughout the business community as customer pressure increases."

Rachel Yates, SAS Plastic Free Communities Project Officer, said "It's great to see the work that Wilmslow has done to reduce the availability of avoidable plastics, raise awareness and encourage people to refill and reuse.

"We have over six hundred communities across the UK working to reduce single use plastic and the impact it has on our environment. Every step those 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."

Plastic-Free Wilmslow


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Simon Worthington
Wednesday 23rd October 2019 at 4:12 pm
Must get the board out and have a surf along the Bollin.
John Clegg
Wednesday 23rd October 2019 at 6:11 pm
Oh. So it's only me that sees plastic in hedgerows, roadsides and verges?
I often do my own unilateral litter pick - avoiding bottles which contain suspiciously off-yellow liquid - and can pick up 6 to 10 items each 1.5 miles walk.

I have suggested to Cheshire East that we need to install more waste bins - and especially for recycling - but there appears to be no budget for it.
We're probably saving up for more investigations and reports and pay-offs.
Carol Shawcross
Wednesday 23rd October 2019 at 9:04 pm
It’s a drop in the ocean I’m afraid!
The incentive to reduce “one-use plastic” needs to come from the government. In my opinion they should immediately ban plastic for wrapping foods such as fruit and veg and bring back paper bags!

e.g. Why oh why do four apples need to sit on a plastic tray & then be wrapped with plastic? Its just bonkers.
Many apologies to Steve Malone but in my opinion the planet should come before your profits!!
David Smith
Thursday 24th October 2019 at 9:12 pm
I think you will still find that 'single use plastic' is still widely available in many of Wilmslow's outlets.
To what sort of single use plastic does this award refer?
Ruth McNulty
Friday 25th October 2019 at 9:10 am
The award is a recognition of the steps already taken by a significant number of businesses, public bodies and voluntary groups actively to reduce their use of single use plastics. Members of the group have spoken to many concerns in the town in order to determine the progress already made and to record any future actions planned.
The work of the steering group will continue in order to encourage yet more operations to reduce their use of plastic.
Marcia McGrail
Friday 25th October 2019 at 1:50 pm
One of the biggest contributors to plastic in the environment is the 3 trillion cigarette butts, casually discarded to be washed into gutters, combine with fatbergs to block drains, contributing to flooding, eventually breaking down into microplastic into the oceans. If we want to reduce the amount of avoidable plastics...