Chesterfield granted 'Plastic Free Communities' status after work to reduce single-use plastic
Chesterfield has been awarded Plastic Free Community status by a marine conservation charity, in recognition of work in the town to reduce its use of single-use plastic.
The town has joined a network of communities across the UK committed to tackling throw away plastic at the source.
It is part of a five step plan for Plastic Free Communities, run by Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) and comes after Chesterfield fulfilled the conservation group’s five objectives to move away from disposable plastics.
Chesterfield Borough Council pledged to cut single use plastics in a meeting in December 2020 and 50 businesses in the town became Plastic Free Champions by making at least three swaps away from single-use plastics – including Steph's Sustainable Stuff, The Cheese Factor, El Cafe Verde and No10.
Campaigners held 12 events last year, while 40 community organisations and 10 schools also signed up to Plastic Free Chesterfield and a steering group met twice with the council's climate change officer Will Rolls.
Tapton resident, Greg Hewitt, started the campaign in summer 2019 along with other volunteers after watching a number of documentaries such as Blue Planet 2 and A Plastic Ocean.
Greg said: "The campaign has been challenging, especially with Covid, but most business and community organisations we have spoken to have been supportive of the campaign and have signed up.
"Having support from major partners such as the council, Destination Chesterfield, Derbyshire Voluntary Action, and Chesterfield FC feels amazing."
Campaigners organised monthly webinars featuring speakers from Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and Ethical Consumer during the pandemic.
Chesterfield Garland Dancers, Our Vision Our Future, and the newly formed Chesterfield Litter Picking Group are among the 40 community organisations which have signed a Plastic Free Pledge.
"To finally reach Plastic Free Community status after a year and a half feels incredible", Greg continued.
“It is the culmination of many hours given by volunteers who all want Chesterfield to reduce single-use plastics.
"Just because we now have the status, doesn't mean Chesterfield is completely plastic free.
"This is an ongoing journey and we will continue our work to gain the support for our campaign in the community."
The SAS Plastic Free Community network aims to free residential areas from single-use plastic, using a five point plan to empower communities to kick start local grassroots action, which can then be built upon.
The marine conservation charity, based in St Agnes in Cornwall, says it wants to unite communities to tackle avoidable plastic from the beach all the way back to the brands and businesses who create it.
SAS Plastic Free Communities project manager Rachel Yates added: “It’s great to see the work that Chesterfield has done to reduce the availability of avoidable plastics, raise awareness and encourage people to refill and reuse.
“We have over seven 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.”