I’VE been the new council leader for a couple of months now, but it didn’t take me long to begin noticing some big changes since the last time I held the position; some good, some not so good.
One issue that’s taken off since last time is the impact we’re having on the planet. A clean and green environment is now near the top of most wish lists for the area. Our borough’s residents are no different.
The ever-improving recycling figures we pick up from our kerbside collections is a good example of our residents in action; something I applaud.
More on Rochdale borough's recycling success
But there is always more that can be done, which is why I’m in the process of banning all Single Use Plastic (SUP) from Rochdale Riverside.
I can hardly ask the public to ban SUP if it’s freely available in the council offices.
Once the initiative is up and running, it’ll mean single-use plastic, such as cups and cutlery, will be outlawed from our building.
That will hopefully kick start my campaign to make Rochdale one of the first SUP-free boroughs in the country.
Inspired by the work carried out by Penzance Town Council, who was the first nationally to be classed as SUP-free, I’ve investigated what the council would have to achieve to win the award.
Read more about Plastic Free Penzance
The move follows recent announcements by both Iceland and Tesco that they intend to turn plastic-free over the next 5 years.
I hope my 5-point plan for achieving plastic-free status will lead to the award’s organisers, Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), handing the nationally recognised accolade to Rochdale.
Find out more about the environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage
My 5-point plan is:
- Strategic: The Council committing to tackling single use plastics at a strategic level
- Business: Lobbying and encouraging local businesses to ban single use plastics or switch to sustainable alternatives
- Communities: Engaging with and encouraging other communities, groups and organisations to take action on single use plastics
- Education: Rolling out 'Plastic Free Schools' across the borough
- Positive action: Holding area cleans, fundraisers and other awareness raising events
More than 12 million tonnes of plastic enters the world’s oceans every year. And don’t be fooled into thinking that this doesn’t affect us all, it does. This award may seem to have been designed with coastal towns in mind, but pollution of our waterways affects us all.
We really need to act now, before it’s too late, but we will only succeed if we all, council, businesses and the public all work together.
The 5-point plan is reminiscent of that adopted as part of the borough’s hugely successful In Bloom campaign which has brought continued success for a number of years.
More about In Bloom and other council awards