Council acts on report

A North council announced a series of initiatives today (Thurs 15 March 2018) in response to a ground-breaking report which sets out how Newcastle can reduce its waste mountain.

Newcastle City Council is to ban plastics straws and switch to compostable coffee cups in its offices as part of its response to a report by the Newcastle Waste Commission.

Some pubs and clubs in Newcastle have come out in support of a voluntary ban on plastic straws replacing them with paper straws.

In its response to the report, the council, which employs, over 6,000 staff, also pledged to:

  • Reduce single-use plastics by switching to wooden disposable cutlery and re-using platters
  • Provide improved recycling points in all offices
  • Encourage schools to reduce use of plastics
  • Investigate replacing plastic cups with recyclable cups in vending machines
  • Re-skin bin lorries with murals with useful recycling information for households
  • Send householders flyers with useful recycling information
  • Re-skin street litter bins to encourage recycling and discourage littering

The measures were announced just six weeks after the Waste Commission published its report No Time to Waste which sets out how Newcastle can become a world leader in waste reduction.

Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Regulation, Cllr Nick Kemp, said: “I would like to thank the Commissioners for their excellent work on this report which has been well received. I would also like to thank the organisations and community groups whose opinions and experiences helped shape the report.

“One of the things that runs right through it is that dealing with waste is everyone’s responsibility not just the council’s. However, the council is a key influencer in the city and the public would be quite right to ask what is our response to the report. This is what today is all about.”

The 50-page report which is full of ideas and culminates in seven high-level recommendations, will be used to help the council draw up a new waste strategy which by law all local authorities are required to have.

It estimates that the city’s 142,000 tonnes of waste could be reduced by 10 per cent by 2025 and recycling rates improved 23 per cent by 2030 – if its ideas are acted upon. Up to 1,000 jobs and millions of pounds could be generate for the local economy.

Cllr Kemp said: “As a major employer we are taking action to recycle more and throw away less. We know from speaking to our residents that they care about the environment and it is right that we set a good example as a major employer.

“We will also be rolling out a number of initiatives to help communicate clearly to residents what they can and can’t recycled so everyone can play their part in bringing about a step change in the city.

“We are determined to put into practice the recommendations of this important report.”

Pubs and venues that have pledged to ban plastic straws so far are: The Cluny; Wylam Brewery; Mean-Eyed Cat; Town Wall; Bridge Tavern; Central Oven and Shaker; Hop and Cleaver; Redhouse; Lady Greys and Pleased to Meet You.

Mick Rolfe of The Cluny, said: “We care, about beer, food, music, our customers, and wider issues like the environment. It’s why we were at the front for the Shout Out campaign. As an independent bar and venue, we are committed to doing what’s right not just talking about it.

“We welcome and support the city council initiative of the Waste Commission and the really positive response by the council. The Cluny is pleased to sign up to the banning of plastic straws in our venue and are looking to do much more.”

Dave Stone of Wylam Brewery, said: “We welcome the council’s initiative in attempting to reduce the use of single use straws. We took the decision to not offer straws at both The Bridge Tavern and Town Wall last year.

“We feel the leisure industry needs to throw their weight behind this initiative as the general school of thought seems to be 'how can you serve a cocktail without a straw’ whereby our thinking is ‘how can you have oceans without sea life!’

“There’s a much bigger picture here and we are being pro-active and hoping that any steps we can take in reducing waste and pollution can only have a positive impact no matter how small.”

Julie Campbell, owner of the Mean-Eyed Cat, said: "We welcome the Waste Commission findings and support the moves to ban straws and plastic drinking cups.

“As the proprietor of a small independent pub we want to do what we can to minimise the environmental impact of the waste we create. This is very difficult in a society where plastics are used in the vast majority of products.

“We have decided that all of our soft drinks and mixers should be in glass bottles, however the packs of bottles still come shrink wrapped in plastic. Likewise, many of our bottled and canned beers also come plastic wrapped. Being aware of the problems that plastic waste creates is the first step but, consumers and second tier suppliers are dependent on the production companies making bigger changes.

“A couple of other small things we are doing is to ban the use of plastic straws in the pub and to offer a take away coffee service but only if you bring your own reusable mug.”

Barry Ladhar of Crafted Projects said: “I think a lot of people are much more conscious of the effects of waste on the environment.

“We all have a responsibility, and as publicans we should look at how we can reduce the amount of waste we generate.

“As a group, we have decided to stop using plastic straws in our pubs in support of the Waste Commission’s idea, and we will source paper alternatives. It may seem like a small thing but together we can make a big difference, and set a good example to other cities.”

Next week the council will launch a fresh drive to get more people to recycle by sending information to 90,000 households who receive personal bin collections, and new livery on its fleet of bin lorries.

In a next few weeks, with partners in the public and private sectors, it will seek to set up the Resource Newcastle Partnership to encourage good practice in tackling waste across the city.

Chair of the Waste Commission, Heidi Mottram, praised the council’s commitment to tackling waste.

Ms Mottram said: “Newcastle City Council is leading the way among councils in how it deals with waste. By setting up the Commission it pre-empted many of the Government’s recent announcements on banning single use plastics and is showing that it is passionate about tackling waste, one of the biggest issues facing this generation.

“It’s great news to see so many pubs and venues banning plastic straws.”

Northumbrian Water are supporting the council’s waste campaign by bringing Refill to Newcastle. An initiative to encourage people to ditch their single use plastic bottles and instead use refillable ones.

The water company are signing up cafes, bars and shops across the city to become free tap-water refill stations. People will be able to use an app on their phone to find out where the nearest refill point is, or look out for special signs in shop windows.

It’s estimated the new scheme will cut plastic bottle use by tens of millions nationally each year as well as substantially increasing the availability of high quality drinking water.

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