Bristol Green councillors say they are delighted after a Full Council motion they worked on to address the environmental impact of ‘single use’ drinking cups has passed with cross party support. The motion was moved by Lib Dem Councillor Clare Campion-Smith with input from Green councillors Fi Hance and Martin Fodor. It calls on Bristol’s Labour Mayor to introduce a small charge on non-recyclable drinking cups provided at City Hall and other venues controlled by the Council, as well as lobbying central government for a charge at the national level which could be similar to the successful charge on plastic bags introduced in October 2015.
‘Single-use’ plastics are so-called because they either cannot or are not designed to be recycled. These are things like plastic film wraps, straws, coffee stirrers, soda and water bottles and most food packaging. Most coffee cups sold in the UK are waterproofed by fusing the card with a plastic membrane which cannot then be extracted at most recycling plants. This means the coffee cups also take an extremely long time to biodegrade – as much as 30 years according to experts – creating a mountain of waste for future generations.
Green councillors contributed some changes to the Lib Dem motion which were agreed the day before the Full Council meeting. These included: Calling on the mayor to ensure all outlets on Council land offer reusable coffee cups for sale, to request all council contractors to switch to fully recyclable drinks cups, and to ensure cups are only sold with non-black plastic lids (as in practice black plastic is not recyclable).
Councillor Martin Fodor, who started a petition on the Bristol City Council website to ban single use plastics, said “Anyone who saw Blue Planet on Sunday evening would find it impossible to deny the evidence of the damage single use plastics are doing to our environment. While recyclable and reusable drinking cups exist there is no excuse for us to keep drinking coffee out of these disposable cups and tossing them away each time. At the moment we throw away a whopping 2.5 billion coffee cups a year – twenty five thousand tonnes of waste which mostly goes into landfill. Use of reusable – or at least recyclable – drinking cups has to be encouraged through gentle nudges like this.”
The Green campaign and petition to ban single use, disposable plastics in Bristol City Council was supported by the party’s co-leader and Green MP Caroline Lucas when she came to visit Bristol in October.
Caroline said: “There's a huge amount [Bristol City Council] could be doing in terms of their own procurement policies, in terms of the conditions they put on licensing when other big events are coming to the city. There's no reason that there should be plastic bottles in Council meetings, in our schools, or in other Council buildings.”
Councillor Fi Hance, former Green Cabinet Member said “Thanks are due to the Lib Dem councillors who allowed us to contribute to writing this motion without having to go through the lengthy amendment process in Full Council – it is an excellent, common sense green idea and I’m delighted it has passed. During my time in Cabinet I set in motion the beginning stages of a council-wide curb on single use plastics and this is a really good first step towards that. Following this motion passing with cross party support I hope to see action from the Mayor on this soon.”