Reporter Gemma Sherlock continues our Sack the Plastic campaign by speaking to various businesses who are doing their bit to reduce plastic waste.
Plastic is one of the world’s favourite packaging materials and one of the world’s biggest polluters.
The cheap, hard wearing material can be found almost anywhere, even in the tea bags you place in your cup each morning.
There’s no doubt it’s destroying our environment and oceans – yet big cooperations are still being given the money to produce cheap plastic.
But there’s hope.
Businesses are fighting back and taking small but effective steps to reduce their plastic intake.
We have looked some businesses in Lancaster and Morecambe who are making the move to environmentally friendly practices.
PUBS & CAFES
Many pubs have moved from plastic to biodegradable paper straws.
Some of these include The Borough, The Britannia, The Lodge, Wetherspoons and more.
“As a business we have got to look at how we can improve the environment, said Gary Tennant, general manager at The Borough. “It’s becoming more and more important, we need to do the right thing to move away from plastic straws to paper and also from a commerical point of view, to show to our customers that we are taking steps towards becoming more environmentally friendly.”
As well as plastic straws, takeaway cups are also proving to be a problem.
The UK gets through more than 2.5bn disposable coffee cups a year, with almost all of them incinerated, exported or sent to landfill.
Organisations from across the paper cup supply chain have signed an agreement to accelerate UK recycling of plastic lined paper cups.
The companies signed up to the agreement include Caffe Nero, Costa Coffee, Greggs, McDonald’s UK, Nestlé, Pret A Manger and Starbucks.
But many plastic cups are still seen littered along our cycle tracks and beautiful promenade – some wedged between rocks or even blown from a nearby bin.
The Pavillion Cafe in Williamson Park, Lancaster is using fully compostable (even the lids) takeout cups and straws as well as bamboo cups.
Kerry’s Coffee House on the prom, run by Kerry Brotheridge, has also made a plastic free commitment.
The cafe uses compostable takeaway cups, paper bags, paper straws and milk boxes.
“As we are on the prom it’s very important to address plastic as you see so much rubbish on the beach,” said Kerry, who runs the cafe with eight members of staff.
“We are trying to reduce as much as we can, we used to wrap our sandwiches in cling film, now we have paper bags.”
Kerry, from Halton, has had the business for nearly four years and was overwhelmed by the amount of milk bottles the business was going through.
She said: “We don’t use them anymore, we use boxes of milk from Stephensons Dairy in Morecambe.
“The boxes have a small amount of plastic in them but they are a lot better.”
The cafe also offers customers refills for tap water to reduce consumption of plastic water bottles.
“We have always done it to be honest but it was only until we put a sign in the window that people realised,” said Kerry.
“Sometimes people don’t think to go into somewhere and ask for a refill.”
An alternative to buying milk in plastic bottles is using glass bottles provided from your local milk man.
Mark Seward is one of many who delivers the glass bottled milk across the district.
A number of chip shops have also taken action.
Hodgson’s Chippy in Lancaster has joined other eco-friendly takeaways to reduce plastic.
The chip shop on Prospect Street has converted to biodegradable boxes, which are produced from a renewable and sustainable sugarcane bi-product.
The new boxes are an eco-friendly alternative to their previously used conventional foam/polystyrene.
“We have been testing various packaging choices for some time now and the bio-boxes have proved to be a great choice,” said co-owner Nigel Hodgson.
“Our customers can now recycle the used packaging in their recycling collection boxes – all helping to create a more sustainable and eco-friendly Lancashire.”
Packet Bridge chip shop in Bolton-le-Sands also use paper and cardboard packaging rather than the previous polystyrene material.
Black’s Finest Fish & Chips, on High Road, Halton also use biodegradable boxes for their takeaways.
Supermarkets have come under increasing pressure to reveal how much plastic they create, with reports that they make more than one million tonnes per year here in the UK.
Some shoppers are now turning to local markets to purchase loose produce.
Lancaster Farmers Market uses a majority of plastic free packaging and will reuse fruit and vegetable punnets if you put purchased produce into your own bags.
The fish stall on the market also places purchased fish into your own containers upon request.
Single Step, off Penny Street, Shoreway Fisheries at Marketgate, Filberts Bakery on King Street, Countrystyle Foods at Lancaster Leisure Park and Morecambe Festival Market are all reducing plastic packaging by using eco-friendly alternatives.
New businesses are also picking up on the trend.
Becky Lois Burns has opened Textile Candy, on Yorkshire Street in Morecambe.
The 27-year-old was inspired to open an eco-friendly business after witnessing terrible conditions in Ghana.
“I have seen how damaging plastic is, especially in Ghana,” said Becky, who lives in Heysham.
“All the plastic is just washed up on beaches, there is so much of it.
“But the people who live there are constantly recycling, I seen one football net made entirely form plastic bags.”
Becky wanted to make recyclable jewellery and other products that were environmentally friendly.
So she opened Textile Candy one month ago which has a no plastic policy.
“The packaging is all paper, the shop decor is all made from recycled/upcycled/found objects and some of the products sold are recycled zero waste glass jewellery from Ghana and hand painted wooden bead jewellery,” said Becky.
“I don’t use any plastic features and I also use paper bags made from recyclable paper.”
Becky’s shop till is also made from wooden palettes which she sanded down herself.
Fixtures on the wall include a piece of driftwood retrieved from the River Lune which is used as bag hanging display.
“I don’t understand why people use so much plastic, you can use paper for a lot of things, it is just a tiny bit more, I think my paper bags cost me 10p more than plastic ones,” said Becky
“Since the charge for plastic bags that has made a big difference but I think we can and should do a lot more.”
Campaign groups, charities and Lancaster City Council have all been trying to come to terms with the issue and reduce our reliance on plastic too, and we’ll be covering these initiatives over the coming weeks.
Do you have a story about how you’re sacking the plastic?