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Islanders urged to join war on plastic

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Islanders are being urged to drastically reduce the amount of plastic they use as Jersey joins global efforts to reduce its reliance on the everyday material.

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The Environment Department is encouraging the community to back a national campaign aimed at reducing the amount of plastic used by businesses and the States.

A local version of a natioanl campaign, which is run by Surfers Against Sewage, is due to officially launch in June and would, if successful, mean that the Island could be awarded ‘Plastic Free Coastline’ status.

In order for the Island to receive the title, businesses and States departments enrolled in the initiative must replace three disposable plastic items with re-usable ones.

A steering group made up of business owners and environmentalists is due to be established, under the terms of the scheme, to organise two annual free community events locally and to collect evidence of how the Island is reducing its use of the material.

Linzi Hawkin, regional representative for Surfers Against Sewage, who is leading the campaign locally alongside environmental activist, Sheena Brockie, said that she was pleased the issue was now being taken more seriously.

‘I think that this has been an issue for a long time. It is only now that we are getting attention from the mainstream media that the idea of cutting down on plastic use has really started to flourish,’ she said.

‘In Jersey, a lot of people have been focused on doing beach cleans, which is great, but it is like turning the taps on in your house and flooding it – those beach cleans act as the mop to clear up the water but we need to turn off the tap.

‘Jersey has a really unique opportunity to be a world leader on this. We could show what is possible when the community engages and change happens. I do not think many other countries have the same opportunity.’

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The States have already begun to implement some of the changes – the Social Security Department have replaced single-use plastic cups with recyclable paper ones.

And a number of locally based supermarkets – including Waitrose, the Co-op, Iceland and Alliance – have all recently made individual pledges to significantly reduce their use of plastic.

According to the Environment Department around 200 Jersey companies are members of the States’ Eco-Active business network and many are likely to sign up to the latest initiative.

Environment Minister Steve Luce said that although much of the plastic which washed up on Jersey’s coastline did not originate locally, the Island still had a part to play.

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‘There is no doubt that since Blue Planet II aired on the BBC there has been a big outcry about plastics. This is a great way of bringing everyone together – individuals, schools, community groups and businesses – to work on something that a lot of people are currently very passionate about,’ he said.

‘We want to get people feeling that they are a part of this project and that there is a need to change. I want Islanders to be able to question businesses on what they are doing to reduce their use of plastic – if there is public pressure then they will adapt.’

More details on the campaign can be found by visiting sas.org.uk.

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