Letchworth becomes first Herts town awarded 'plastic free' status

PUBLISHED: 07:02 13 June 2019

L-R: Back, Cllr Steve Jarvis, Glyn Holt, and Ffion, Cllr David Levett, Cllr Gary Grindal, Cllr Morgan Derbyshire Front, Diane Ketcher, Julia Sonander, Cllr Helen Oliver, Chrissy Batty, Cllr Sue Ngwala and Jason Valentine. Picture: Transition Town Letchworth

L-R: Back, Cllr Steve Jarvis, Glyn Holt, and Ffion, Cllr David Levett, Cllr Gary Grindal, Cllr Morgan Derbyshire Front, Diane Ketcher, Julia Sonander, Cllr Helen Oliver, Chrissy Batty, Cllr Sue Ngwala and Jason Valentine. Picture: Transition Town Letchworth

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Letchworth is the first town in Hertfordshire to have been awarded a 'plastic free' status by Surfers Against Sewage, after taking action against single-use plastics.

The garden city has been awarded Plastic Free Community Approved status by the marine conservation charity in recognition of the work it has done to start reducing the impact of single-use plastic on the environment.

Julia Sondander, Plastic Free Letchworth's steering group leader, said: "There is a real sense of achievement in reaching this first step of gaining plastic free status for Letchworth.
"We are now looking forward to the next part of the journey to help the town reduce its plastic waste.

"Some of the objectives set by Sufers Against Sewage have been challenging, but the scheme has forced us to reach out across the town and meet new people - which is what we have to do if we are going to tackle the plastic problem."

Plastic Free Letchworth is an intiative set up by charity Transition Town Letchworth in January 2018.

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After registering with the Surfers Against Sewage Free Communities movement, the group approached key organisations and businesses to put together a plan to minimise plastic use.

Campaign co-ordinator Diane Ketcher said: "Letchworth is lucky to have a few pioneer businesses who were keen to set an example.

"David's Bookshop led the way by making changes in its café. It's been a real team effort, for example, North Herts District Council awarded us a locality grant to give all the primary schools Wild Tribe Story books to get them started on their plastic free journey, the BID funded reuseable cloth bags which the local residents could get in return for a plastic free pledge at the launch event.

"It's been great to see local businesses reducing their reliance on plastic, switching to paper and compostable take-away containers.

"Local shops, including Letchworth's zero-waste shop, Bamboo Turtle, have been stocking plastic free alternatives like shampoo bars and metal straws."

SAS free communities project officer Rachel Yates said: "It's great to see the work that Letchworth has done to reduce the availability of avoidable plastics, raise awareness and encourage people to reduce, refill and reuse."

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