Councillors under fire for use of plastic bottles

Date published: 10 November 2021

Oldham's councillors are being urged to ditch the use of plastic drinking bottles during council meetings.

Plastic bottles appear in front of most councillors at meetings, despite the authority's aim to become a 'single-use plastic-free authority'.

The Authority's  strategy, published in 2019 sets out the Council's policy on single use plastics, including the following aims:

  • Oldham Council committing to reducing their reliance on single-use plastics where practicably possible.  
  • Ending the sale and provision of single use plastic products such as bottles, cups, cutlery and drinking straws in council buildings
  • Encouraging traders across the Borough to sell re-usable containers and invite customers to bring their own.
  • Encouraging partners on the Oldham Leadership Board and businesses across the borough to also Do Their Bit on reducing single-use plastics.  

At a meeting of full Council on 28 March 2018, a motion was passed in respect of a strategy for a ‘single-use plastic free’ authority to be developed by December 2018.  

Green Party representative Brian Banawich says councillors should do more: "It was very noticeable during the most recent full Council meeting that each Councillor had a plastic water bottle displayed prominently in front of them during the televised meeting.

"This may not seem a huge issue but the example set by the council is a very important one in the fight against the amount of plastic damaging our environment. The use of small glass water pitchers or water coolers would have been a better visual representation of the council's commitment to tackling plastic pollution.

"The plan to make Oldham a 'single-use plastic free authority' is one we very much support and we want to see Oldham achieve this important goal as soon as practically possible. It's vital the council not only talks the talk on the environment but is very much seen to walk the walk to get the full confidence of all the people of Oldham and Saddleworth."

An Oldham Council spokesperson said:  "Oldham Council is committed to reducing our reliance on single use plastics, which has included encouraging our teams to reduce the use of single use plastic stationary, the removal of vending machines in council offices, as well as other initiatives that vary across departments.

"The water bottles used by councillors during last week’s Full Council meeting are 100% recyclable, and were offered in line with our commitment to promote a Covid-safe workplace for staff and council members.

"We are now looking at options for any future meetings that will allow us to balance our intentions to reduce our use of single use plastics where practicable, while prioritising the health and well-being of staff and members."

Buxton Water, who produce the bottles used in the meeting, confirmed their water bottles are 100% recyclable.

On average 58% of all plastic bottles are collected for recycling in the UK.

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