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Reducing our reliance on single use plastics

Many of you will have seen the evidence of the serious impact of plastics on our environment through watching the BBC's Blue Planet II TV series and in the media more widely.

This October marks a year since the second series of Blue Planet was aired. Over the last twelve months, we have seen the focus on reducing single-use plastics increase dramatically across the world, with the issue climbing up the agenda for many politicians, companies and organisations.

It is important that we all take responsibility for reducing our reliance on single-use plastic, and Surrey Adult Learning has started to think about what we can do to reduce this in our centres.

Single use plastic

In April this year, more than 40 organisations, including Coca-Cola and NestlĂ©, signed up to the UK's "Plastic Pact" – a pledge that by 2025 all their plastic packaging will be able to be reused, recycled, or composted.

So what steps are we taking here at Surrey Adult Learning to start to reduce our reliance on single-use plastic?
As you may have noticed, in and around the centres, we've already stopped purchasing single-use plastic cups for water coolers.
We are going to use up the remaining plastic cups we have for learners who've forgotten to bring a water bottle with them; however once our stocks have gone, we will not be ordering any more single-use plastic cups. We are currently looking into a recyclable alternative and would like to encourage Learners to bring in their own reusable bottles.

Reusable bottles

According to a poll undertaken by Brita and the Marine Conservation Society, if half the UK made the switch to reusable bottles, it is estimated that the plastic bottles saved in a year could stretch to the moon and back!

We have also spoken directly with our Waste Contractor and identified which items can go into the 'Mixed Recycling' bins collected by them. We will shortly be installing more of these in and around the Centres alongside – or instead of – some of the regular waste bins, to make the option of recycling easier for everyone.

We are also pulling together some research on what other single-use plastic items we could replace in our centres, and are challenging our suppliers to source and provide viable recyclable alternatives.

What can you do?

  • Remember your refillable water bottle
  • If you'd like a takeaway hot drink, bring a reusable coffee cup
  • Where available, make sure that all recyclable plastics and waste go in the recycling containers across our centres

  • Updated: 28 Nov 2018