Plastic-free Community

Dawlish is Awarded ‘Plastic Free Communities’ Status as it Takes Action on Single-Use Plastic.

Dawlish has joined a network of communities across the UK who are leading the way on tackling throw away plastic. The town has been awarded Plastic Free Community status by marine conservation charity, Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), in recognition of the work it has done to start reducing the impact of single-use plastic on the environment.

Local group, Dawlish Against Plastic, started the campaign in March 2018, following concern about the impact of unnecessary plastics on our environment.

Registering with the SAS Plastic Free Communities movement, Dawlish Against Plastic pulled together key organisations and businesses in the town to put in place a five-point plan. The objectives include; setting up a community led steering group, instigating the SAS Plastic Free Schools education programme, getting local council commitment and working with local businesses, organisations and community groups to spread the word and minimise the amount of disposable plastics they use.

Chair of the group, Vanessa Ryley, said, “Our target has been to reduce unnecessary, single-use plastic and the support of the Town Council, community organisations and local businesses has been vital in enabling us to achieve Plastic Free Community status for Dawlish.”

Since the group started, Dawlish Town Council agreed unanimously to support the group’s goals and over forty local businesses agreed to remove plastic straws. Nine businesses will receive a plaque from Surfers Against Sewage in recognition of their efforts to replace plastic items with more sustainable alternatives. Other businesses are working towards these goals.

Local businesses have swapped plastic bags for paper bags, encouraged customers to bring their own containers for refilling, exchanged plastic or polystyrene takeaway containers for cardboard boxes, and takeaway coffee cups with compostable ones. Thirteen businesses offer refills to customers’ own reusable water bottles for free, saving the sale of unnecessary single-use bottles. There are many other examples from businesses that are reducing their use of plastic in innovative ways.

Dawlish Against Plastic organises monthly beach cleans in liaison with community group, Open Daw, and works with local schools to raise awareness of the hazards of plastic waste. The group engages with the public at community events and holds fundraising events for Surfers Against Sewage.

Vanessa Ryley said, “As well as all the efforts of the Steering Group members, we have been very fortunate in receiving support from the Environment Agency, Keep Britain Tidy, Teignbridge and Dawlish Town Councillors, our local MP, Anne Marie Morris, Dawlish WI, and many other local organisations. We are thrilled to have achieved this recognition for Dawlish from Surfers Against Sewage, which would not have been possible without the support of the community. Although we recognise that being totally plastic free is unrealistic, achieving the status is a big step along the way to reducing avoidable, single-use plastic in our area. We look forward to continuing to work with local businesses and other organisations that recognise the impact single-use plastic is having on our environment.”

The Surfers Against Sewage Plastic Free Community network aims to free the places where we live from single-use. Using the five point plan the aim is to empower communities to kick start local grassroots action, which can then be built upon.

The marine conservation charity, based in St Agnes in Cornwall, says it wants to unite communities to tackle avoidable plastic from the beach all the way back to the brands and businesses who create it. It says it is not about removing all plastic from our lives, but kicking our addiction to throwaway plastic and changing the system that produces it.

Rachel Yates, SAS Plastic Free Communities Project Officer, said: “It’s great to see the work that Dawlish has done to reduce the availability of avoidable plastics, raise awareness and encourage people to refill and reuse.

“We have over four hundred communities across the UK working to reduce single use plastic and the impact it has on our environment. Every step those communities and the individuals in them take is a step towards tackling the problem at source, challenging our throwaway culture and encouraging the habit changes we need to see.”

Plastic Free Communities:

Surfers Against Sewage:

Plastic Free Communities is an ambitious community initiative designed to unite and empower individuals, small businesses, local government and community groups to reduce their collective plastic footprint and protect the environment together. Driven by inspirational local volunteers, we are building a new and exciting community movement tackling single-use plastics and plastic litter in our villages, towns, cities and rural locations. This highly inclusive initiative, created for all ages and backgrounds, is designed to get the whole community active and do something positive to reduce the amount of plastic in the local environment. We believe that united communities lead to cleaner beaches, streets, parks and riverbanks.

See here for some of our pioneering businesses in our community, our 'plastic free champions'.

Official Logo from Surfers Against Sewage awarding Dawlish Plastic Free Community Status