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."