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Town named Norfolk's first plastic-free community

PUBLISHED: 12:00 30 November 2019 | UPDATED: 11:09 01 December 2019

Sheringham Plastic Aware (SPA) chairman Liz Withington and SPA  junior group members celebrate the town being named the first community in Norfolk to gain plastic-free status.
Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Sheringham Plastic Aware (SPA) chairman Liz Withington and SPA junior group members celebrate the town being named the first community in Norfolk to gain plastic-free status. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Archant

Sheringham schools, businesses and residents are celebrating, after the seaside town was named the first plastic-free community in Norfolk.

Sheringham greengrocer Dawn Fulcher, who has swapped plastic bags for brown paper ones to supportf the town's plastic-free campaign.
Photo: Sheringham Plastic AwareSheringham greengrocer Dawn Fulcher, who has swapped plastic bags for brown paper ones to supportf the town's plastic-free campaign. Photo: Sheringham Plastic Aware

The accolade means Sheringham is one of nearly 650 towns in the UK to have significantly reduced their use of single-use plastics as part of a campaign run by environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS).

The scheme, which is one of a number of initiatives run by SAS, aims to drastically cut the 269,000 tonnes of plastic that finds its way into the world's oceans every year, killing an estimated one million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals.

Sheringham Primary School's marine plastics-themed exhbition. The town has just been given plastic-free status by environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage.
Photo: KAREN BETHELLSheringham Primary School's marine plastics-themed exhbition. The town has just been given plastic-free status by environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

The Sheringham campaign, which was launched 18 months ago by a group of local people led by deputy mayor Liz Withington, has seen schools, churches, restaurants, shops and pubs take steps to replace single use plastics with environmentally-friendly alternatives.

Newly-elected district councillor Mrs Withington said the response from the community had been "amazing", with students at Sheringham High School working with canteen staff to cut plastic waste, pubs switching to reusable plastic beer glasses, and Sheringham Primary School's junior SPA group hosting an art exhibition, carrying out waste audits, and taking part in the town carnival and Norwich Lord Mayor's Celebration wearing environment-themed costumes.

Sheringham Primary School pupil Isla, 8, with the collage she made as part of an exhibition highlighting the threat to marine life from single use plastics.
Photo: KAREN BETHELLSheringham Primary School pupil Isla, 8, with the collage she made as part of an exhibition highlighting the threat to marine life from single use plastics. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

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The school has also become a drop-off station for the Terracycle recycling scheme, which has seen pupils, parents and local groups and businesses fill two bright yellow wheelie bins with used biros, empty crisp packets and felt tip pens.

"To be the first in the county to have plastic-free status is an incredible achievement," Mrs Withington said. "I think we really have raised awareness of the need to reduce single use plastics and not only has the whole community got on board, but we now have new businesses setting up with that in mind."

Sheringham Primary School special educational needs co-ordinator Jo Tweedale, who leads the junior SPA group, said: "The children have been really passionate about the issue and I think they can see that if something is not done now, then there will very quickly be an impact on their future and the future of their children."

For more information, visit the Sheringham Plastic Aware Facebook page, or www.sas.org.uk

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