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Norwich Market in drive to become leading light in single-use plastic reduction

PUBLISHED: 16:31 11 July 2019 | UPDATED: 16:38 11 July 2019

Green Party councillor, Jamie Osborn, front, and Norwich Market traders, who are working toward a permanent plastic-free market. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Green Party councillor, Jamie Osborn, front, and Norwich Market traders, who are working toward a permanent plastic-free market. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2019

As a new drive has been launched to make Norwich Market a leading light in ditching single-use plastic, local democracy reporter DAVID HANNANT looks at some of the measures being taken in Norfolk to reduce the impact on the environment.

Rosie Dearlove at the Slayy Vintage stall, one of the Norwich Market traders who are working toward a permanent plastic-free market. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYRosie Dearlove at the Slayy Vintage stall, one of the Norwich Market traders who are working toward a permanent plastic-free market. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

It was only two weeks ago that Sir David Attenborough brought Glastonbury Festival to silence with his message of the devastating impact single-use plastics have on our environment.

It is a message the environmental icon has crusaded on for years and has brought the public's conscience to life over it.

Closer to home a fresh drive has been launched to reduce the use within one of Norwich's most prominent mainstays - the market.

Green Party city councillor Jamie Osborn is hoping traders of the market can lead by example by cutting back on single-use plastics in their businesses - and already has a number of stalls pledging to go plastic-free.

Kingston Gray at Lucy's Fish & Chips stall, one of the Norwich Market traders who are working toward a permanent plastic-free market. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYKingston Gray at Lucy's Fish & Chips stall, one of the Norwich Market traders who are working toward a permanent plastic-free market. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Among these a number of traders have pledged to swap plastic bags for paper or canvas, while others are encouraging customers to bring their own re-usable containers and introducing other biodegradable equipment.

Mr Osborn, city councillor for the Mancroft ward, said: "Having heard some inspirational stories from people around the world who are taking part in Plastic Free July, I wondered whether it would be possible for Norwich Market to become plastic-free.

"The traders I have spoken to have been really on board with the idea and are keen to work to market the market as an environmental leader.

"We have all seen the television programmes and heard people like Sir David Attenborough talk about the devastation plastic is having on the world around us and are talking the message on board, but we need to make bigger changes and fast."

Joe Ridoutt at the Botanical stall, one of the Norwich Market traders who are working toward a permanent plastic-free market. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYJoe Ridoutt at the Botanical stall, one of the Norwich Market traders who are working toward a permanent plastic-free market. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Rosie Dearlove, of clothing stall Slayyy Vintage, said: "Our stall is 100pc sustainable fashion - our clothing is all second hand and recycled and I do my best to make something of everything we take in.

"I've started re-using price tags rather than giving them away and do not use plastic bags. It's so important we do everything we can to save the future, for future generations."

Plant stall Bo-tanical has also taken to using canvas and paper bags and wherever possible avoids plastic plant pots.

Joe Ridoutt, the stall owner said: "I have done all I can to reduce the use of plastic. Sometimes it can't be completely avoided but wherever I can I try to order in plants that come in dried coconut shell pots instead of plastic and use cardboard trays."

Kingston Gray at Lucy's Fish & Chips stall, one of the Norwich Market traders who are working toward a permanent plastic-free market. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYKingston Gray at Lucy's Fish & Chips stall, one of the Norwich Market traders who are working toward a permanent plastic-free market. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Elsewhere on the market, food stalls such as Lucy's Fish and Chips and the Mushy Peas Stall are also looking at ways to cut down on plastic use.

Anita Adcock, of the Mushy Peas Stall, said that while finding biodegradable containers for take-away portions was difficult, she provides ceramic bowls and metal spoons for customers who eat at the stall.

She added: "Unfortunately we do have difficulty finding things for take-away peas to go in, but if customers bring in their own cups or containers we happily fill them up rather than using a carton."

Kingston Gray, co-owner of Lucy's, said: "I really do think a plastic free market is an achievable goal - however we do need help doing that.

Anita Adcock at the Mushy Peas stall, one of the Norwich Market traders who are working toward a permanent plastic-free market. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYAnita Adcock at the Mushy Peas stall, one of the Norwich Market traders who are working toward a permanent plastic-free market. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

"But I believe if everybody is willing to do a little, it can make a lot of difference."

Beyond the market, other businesses and organisations across the county - from large to small - have begun making efforts to reduce single-use plastic use.

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Businesses have also been joined by events teams and schools in looking to address the matter.

Sir David Attenborough after officially renaming the Komodo dragon enclosure 'The Attenborough Komodo Dragon House' at ZSL London Zoo in Regent's Park, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday August 9, 2016. See PA story ENVIRONMENT Attenborough. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA WireSir David Attenborough after officially renaming the Komodo dragon enclosure 'The Attenborough Komodo Dragon House' at ZSL London Zoo in Regent's Park, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday August 9, 2016. See PA story ENVIRONMENT Attenborough. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire

This month's Latitude Festival, for example, is set to follow the lead of Glastonbury and has completely banned single-use plastics on site - with compostable packaging only being used by food vendors.

Meanwhile, pupils from Lakenham Primary School and Nursery, on City Road in Norwich, have gathered plastics and composed poems to urge its caterers, Vertas, to also make steps to cut back on non-recyclables.

It is plain to see the words of Mr Attenborough - and many others - are striking chords across the county, but clearly this is just the beginning.

What councils say they are doing

Through the Norfolk Waste Partnership, all of the county's councils work together to encourage recycling and reduce waste - though each has its own individual measures too.

Norfolk County Council passed a motion in October calling for a reduction in single-use plastics, which saw a task group formed at County Hall.

On Monday, its cabinet will decide whether to spend £7,690 on ceramic cups for staff and visitors to County Hall, which it says will save 80,000 paper cups a year.

In September 2016, Norwich City Council agreed a motion from Green Party councillor Martin Schmierer calling on it to become a single-use plastic-free authority by the end of 2017.

This, though, is yet to materialise, with plastic cups - though biodegradable ones - still accompanying water coolers in City Hall.

It has also reduced its SUP use by introducing food, battery and mixed recycling at City Hall.

However, Green Party members are tabling a motion at the next full council meeting calling for efforts to be ramped up.

North Norfolk District Council has a campaign, called #whatSUP geared at slashing the use.

As part of this, the council has made refill cups available from information centres which people are encouraged to use across the district.

Breckland Council has been working alongside a non-profit organisation called Pure Clean Earth to spread its message.

The council has worked alongside organiser Dan Reynolds to produce awareness vidos and talks on reducing plastics.

Broadland District Council has backed a national campaign called Refill, which sees businesses allowing people to refill bottles from their tap water supply.

South Norfolk Council, which shares a senior officer team with Broadland, is also a backer of this scheme.

West Norfolk Council. has formed a single-use plastics working group, which is in the process of exploring how the council can reduce its use.

A spokesman said a report is to be considered by cabinet in due course, while individual members have been making conscious efforts to make personal steps - including using their own cups, refilling containers and not using wipes.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council has a 'green group' of staff volunteers encourage colleagues to look for ways of reducing usage.

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