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Plans to encourage county's workers to enjoy a plastic free lunch

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A list of lunch options around Cambridgeshire free from single-use plastics will be made available in September as part of the county council’s plans to reduce plastic waste.

County council plans plastic-free approved lunch options. (11450531)
County council plans plastic-free approved lunch options. (11450531)

If all goes to plan, the list will advise which shops, restaurants and other food outlets people in Cambridgeshire can go to grab lunch and take it back to the office without bringing with it any plastic pollution.

The scheme is planned by Cambridgeshire County Council, and while intended as advice for its own council staff on where they can buy a plastic-free lunch near the office, it will be made publicly available for those who may wish to use it.

Project director for the council’s energy investment unit, Sheryl French, said: “The idea is if you are interested in reducing your plastic pollution and you get out and buy your lunch that you go out and find the place that can offer you a plastic-free lunch.”

She added: “It’s important for the council to lead this type of work because we have had a number of of young people come forward to identify plastic pollution as a significant concern.”

She referenced the recent demonstrations outside Shire Hall and across the county as an example of growing demand for government to take action on environmental issues.

The move is part of wider efforts by the council to reduce its environmental impact. The general purposes committee unanimously approved a commitment on Tuesday (May 28) to eliminate single-use plastics and achieve the highest in-house recycling rate of any council in the country. It will now go to full council, along with the plan for a plastic-free lunch list, for a final decision in July.

Earlier this month the leader of the council, Councillor Steve Count, put forward a motion, accepted by full council, to show the authority accepts “the world is facing a climate and environment emergency”.

Although the scheme is yet to be finalised and launched, a spokesman for the council said businesses who wish to take part are encouraged to contact the council via social media using the #plasticfreelunch or the mlei@cambridgeshire.gov.uk email address.

Other plans include changing the council’s procurement process so that companies looking to take on council contracts will need to justify any use of single-use plastics, signing up to the Refill drinks scheme so residents can fill up their bottles of water at publicly accessible council offices, and providing resources for schools to enable them to deliver their own plastic-free lunch days.

The plastic reduction strategy document starts: “Since Sir David Attenborough highlighted the devastating effect plastic is having on our environment there has been increasing awareness that we must reduce our reliance on plastic and take responsibility for our own actions. We know there is an urgent need for new thinking to tackle avoidable waste, particularly plastic.”

It goes on to say “This strategy is our response to this challenge.”

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