War on Lancaster’s plastic waste

Local business leaders (and participants of the Low Carbon Innovation Forum) at the Waste Transfer Centre where they saw the mountain of plastic collected just that morning.
Local business leaders (and participants of the Low Carbon Innovation Forum) at the Waste Transfer Centre where they saw the mountain of plastic collected just that morning.

Lancaster University’s Centre for Global Eco-Innovation is working with local businesses and Lancaster City Council to create an action plan to tackle the growing problem of the city’s waste.

After councillors voted to support a motion to tackle the vast amount of plastic ending up in landfill and polluting the world’s oceans, Lancaster City Council approached Lancaster University for help.

The University was able to issue this as a challenge for business leaders working on an initiative called the ‘Low Carbon Innovation Forum’

. The Forum, which is run through the Lancaster University Management School, supports local business leaders and aims to provide small and medium sized businesses with the tools and techniques they need to innovate and reduce their carbon footprint.

Eight business leaders from the Low Carbon Innovation Forum visited Lancaster City Council for a meeting with Chief Environment Officer, Mark Davies, and members of Lancaster University Management School.

They saw the scale of the problem when they visited the Waste Transfer Centre in Middleton and were greeted by a mountain of plastic – a fraction of the 28tonnes of recyclables collected just that morning.

Afterwards, the team took part in a workshop to brainstorm innovative ways to tackle the problem.

The Chief Environment Officer for Lancaster City Council, Mark Davies, said: “Landfill across the UK is running out and is very costly. Reducing waste and finding more sustainable, environmentally friendly waste management solutions is an absolute priority – but the problem can’t be tackled by Councils alone.

“Lancaster University is also supporting us from a research perspective to help achieve our ambition of reducing waste in the district.

“However, a serious problem that needs to be tackled right now is the excessive use of plastic bottles and single use coffee cups– so we asked the University to help us create a taskforce to put some energy and innovation behind the problem.

“The over use of plastic and single use coffee cups is something that’s affecting the globe, not just Lancaster – but I hope that by working with business, academics, schools and local residents, Lancaster can find an innovative way forward.”

Helen Wilkinson runs the Low Carbon Innovation Forum at Lancaster University. She said: “The visit to Lancaster City Council provided real food for thought and although we were all aware of the challenge that plastic poses, seeing mountains of it on your doorstep was a shock. The group will all meet again in a few weeks.”