Stroud has become one of the first few districts to be awarded Plastic Free Community status by Surfers Against Sewage.

The marine conservation charity has awarded Stroud this status in recognition of the work it has done to start reducing the impact of single-use plastic on the environment.

Action group leader Claudi Williams started the local campaign in 2017 after holidaying with her family in the Mediterranean. After seeing an excess of plastic waste, Claudi wanted to raise awareness of the polluting impacts of plastic consumption, especially single-use plastic.

Stroud District Action on Plastic was formally launched in July 2019, after Claudi teamed up with other interested local individuals, businesses and councillors. The group helps individuals, businesses and institutions to reduce their carbon footprint.

After setting up with the Surfers Against Sewage Plastic Free Communities movement, Claudi and the SDAP team have pulled together key organisations from across the district to put in place a five-point plan.

SDAP has organised and attended over 30 public events to promote the cause and involve the community, including talks, litter picks, film screenings, fairs, and workshops on how to mitigate the amount of plastic coming into your home.

The group has also worked with several of Stroud’s festival teams to help run the town’s annual events in a plastic-free way.

Claudi said: “Perhaps it should come as no surprise that the Stroud district community has responded so well to this challenge: people are increasingly aware of the damaging impacts of the plastic cycle on our climate and our environment, and they are looking for ways to live without the need for it.

“So often, the solutions to this issue are also beneficial to the local economy, so the district only stands to gain from this shift towards a lower waste, more sustainable way of living.”

Plastic and the environment

  • According to government reports, supermarkets are responsible for over 800,000 tonnes of plastic packaging each year and in the UK pay less towards collecting and recycling their plastic waste more than any other European country.
  • Taxpayers pay around 90 per cent of the cost and fewer than half of local councils provide on-street recycling bins.
  • Also, if marine plastic pollution continues to rise at its current rate, the amount of plastic in the sea will outweigh fish by 2050.
  • The plastic bag charge introduced in 2015 has made an improvement, the Marine Conservation Society says the levies have had an impact on reducing plastic waste on beaches and in the sea although large retailers in England still sold 2.1 billion single-use plastic carrier bags during the year from 7 April 2016 to 6 April 2017.
  • Frozen food supermarket Iceland has committed to eradicate single-use plastics from its own brand products by 2023 and Lidl have also dedicated to work towards a 20 per cent reduction by 2022.

SDAP has also partnered with businesses across the district and say all of them have worked hard to reduce the disposable plastic in their operations, from the way they package their product to the way they buy their staff room coffee.

“To achieve this accreditation, we’ve worked closely with more than 30 small businesses across the district, who’ve successfully taken on the challenge to reduce their plastic footprint and been recognised as Plastic Free Champions as a result.” said Chloe Turner, project coordinator.

“So many have gone beyond what was asked of them, making changes to reduce plastic right across their premises and supply chain, and we have loved celebrating their successes.”

SDAP’s work is ‘far from over’, with Plastic Free July being a busy month for them as they continue their amazing work across the Stroud District.