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Cambridge City Council pledges action on plastic

News release from 15/10/2019

CAMBRIDGE City Council has signed up to the Cambridge Plastic Pledge which encourages every business and organisation in Cambridge to make a change this year to reduce the amount of single-use plastic they use.

The pledge, developed by Visit Cambridge, Great Days Out In & Around Cambridge and Shepreth Wildlife Conservation Charity, looks to raise awareness around the amount of plastic we use and the impacts this has on the environment.

The pledge encourages organisations in Cambridge to commit to one lasting change this year to reduce the amount of plastic they consume by either changing how they do something, or using an alternative to plastic.

The council has already made significant changes across its services and facilities to reduce plastic consumption and is looking at what further changes could be made.

Changes made by the council already include:

  • Supporting the national Refill campaign, promoting more than 100 free drinking water taps and fountains in Cambridge including those provided by the council such as the drinking water fountain recently installed at Parker’s Piece. Information is available at;
  • Ensuring that council buildings such as leisure centres and sheltered housing schemes do not offer plastic cutlery;
  • Replacing single-use cups with re-usable cups or glasses in office buildings and community centres and providing staff who work outdoors with refillable water bottles;
  • Reducing plastic usage at major events such as Cambridge Folk Festival and the Big Weekend. Measures included requiring traders at the Folk Festival to provide bio-degradable cutlery, cups, straws and providing reusable glasses at the bars at both events;
  • Requiring hot food and drink traders at Cambridge Market not to use single use plastics for food and drink that they sell.

The council is reminding residents and organisations that there are some simple steps to take in order to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic. These include:

  •  Using refillable drinks bottles or coffee cups instead of disposables;
  • Switching to reusable bags instead of single-use plastic bags for shopping;
  • Choosing to reduce packaging purchased and then thrown away, by buying loose fruit, vegetables and refillable goods and items;
  • Refusing plastic straws, lids, cups and stirrers which are used only once;
  • Avoiding ‘disposable’ products containing plastic where alternatives are available, such as toothbrushes, razors and nappies;
  • Re-using plastic packaging wherever possible. For example yoghurt pots can be used for planting (with a drainage hole), ice cream tubs can be used for freezing excess food and other examples are available online;
  • Recycling plastic bags, bottles, pots, and trays. For more information on what you can put in your blue bin visit;
  • Using charity recycling schemes for plastic items which cannot currently be recycled in blue bins, such as crisp packets and toothpaste tubes. To find out how visit

Plastic is extremely durable, however as a result it does not biodegrade very well. As such, plastic waste will remain in the natural environment for hundreds of years, harming wildlife and getting into our food chains. Every year 12 million tonnes of plastic waste are added to the ocean, leading to concerns that by 2050 there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean, by weight.

Reducing the use of plastic can play an important part in reducing people’s carbon footprint and reducing the city’s carbon emissions. Other ways that residents can reduce their own carbon footprint include:

  • Reducing the impact of travel by cycling or walking when possible, taking trains or buses instead of planes and using videoconferencing instead of travelling for meetings. For more ideas click here;
  • Reducing energy consumption by using a washing line if possible instead of a tumble dryer, and insulating homes with loft or cavity wall insulation. For more ideas click here;
  • Reducing water use by taking shorter showers, using eco settings and installing a water butt to save rainwater for garden use. For more ideas click here;
  • Reducing food waste and food miles by buying locally-sourced, seasonal food, using up leftovers and turning kitchen and garden waste into compost. For more ideas click here;
  • For additional tips and ideas visit and

Cllr Rosy Moore, Executive Councillor for Climate Change, Environmental Services and City Centre, said: “We are in a climate and biodiversity emergency, and it is important that we all look at what we can do to help ease the strain on our planet.

“The Cambridge Plastic Pledge is about encouraging local businesses and organisations to be self-aware about their environmental impact and be pro-active in making a meaningful step to reduce it. I urge Cambridge business and organisations to sign up to the pledge and help make a difference.

“The greatest environmental benefit comes from reducing the consumption of our resources, however if this is not possible then seeking reusable options is the next best thing. It is important to ensure that as much as possible of the plastic you do use is recycled in your blue bins.”

For more information on the Cambridge Plastic Pledge visit: