Stepping up the fight against plastic in Crawley

Reducing the use of plastic bottles and encouraging supermarkets to introduce plastic-free aisles were some of the suggestions discussed by Crawley borough councillors
Reducing the use of plastic bottles and encouraging supermarkets to introduce plastic-free aisles were some of the suggestions discussed by Crawley borough councillors

Sir David Attenborough’s ears must have been burning when Crawley councillors agreed to call on supermarkets to introduce plastic-free aisles.

The beloved broadcaster’s name was dropped left, right and centre at the town hall when Labour and Tories alike agreed two motions to help cut down on the amount of plastic waste produced in the town.

As well as pledging to talk to supermarkets about reducing plastic packaging, the council also threw its support behind the government’s resources and waste strategy, which aims to minimise waste and make better use of the country’s resources.

Geraint Thomas (Lab, Northgate) said local authorities had a responsibility to set the tone on such issues.

He added: “Should we be selling plastic water bottles on facilities that we own? Should we be putting more emphasis on water fountains rather than plastic bottles?

“I would hope that Crawley Borough Council has some influence with local businesses and supermarkets to urge them to think seriously about reducing plastic use.”

Kevan McCarthy (Con, Pound Hill North) added: “Littering is a pet hate of mine. I just fail to understand how certain individuals behave so badly towards their environment.

“Plastic entering the water table, for example in Gatwick Stream, ends up in the sea and also in the food chain.

“We need to be sending out a clear message that littering in wrong and that there are severe consequences for people caught littering and flytipping.”

There were stark warnings from some councillors about the consequences of not stepping up efforts to reduce plastic waste, with Bob Burgess (Con, Three Bridges) stating: “We need to be doing more and unless we do we are going to kill this planet.”

Peter Smith (Lab, Ifield) added: “It’s high time we took a stand on this in Crawley and stepped up to the plate to do our bit for the planet” 

Questions were asked about the amount the council recycled and the amount of waste sent to landfill.

While the amount of waste per person is one of the lowest in the country, the recycling rate is the lowest in the county – 28 per cent in 2016/17 compared to Horsham’s 45 per cent.

Chris Cheshire (Lab, Bewbush) pointed out that the recycling figures included green waste.

She said that, with Crawley having the most flats in the county, excluding Worthing, the highest percentage of terraced homes with small gardens and the lowest percentage of detached homes with large gardens, the town would always produce less green waste.

After the meeting, Cllr Thomas said: “I’m very pleased that two motions that will improve the environment have been so positively supported across the political spectrum. By working with central government and surrounding district and borough councils, I’m confident we can make a step change to our town’s sustainability.”

Visit crawley.gov.uk/recycling for more information on what you can recycle.