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Learning from Modbury – Europe’s first plastic bag free town

Learning from Modbury – Europe’s first plastic bag free town
Anne Saunders, Scottish Project Officer, Marine Conservation Society

About the Marine Conservation Society

Aim: To protect and care for our seas, shores and wildlife - now and for future generations

• Protection of wildlife and habitats (Cool Seas Roadshow, Turtle projects, Seasearch)
• Sustainable fisheries (aquaculture, fisheries policy, sustainable fisheries, benign methods)
• Ecologically sensitive and sustainable development
• Clean seas and beaches (litter and pollution team)

Plastics
• Beachwatch 2007: 58% material found was plastic
• Plastics used for nesting material: >90% of 30,000 gannet nests on Grassholm Island now contain plastic
• Fulmars: 1982 – 2001, 96% of birds had plastic fragments in their stomachs, with an average of 23 plastic pieces per bird
• Environmental Quality Objective – 10 % have plastics!
• Van Frannecker – recent work – finding that birds have about the same amount by weight in stomachs – but the pieces smaller.

Plastic Bags in the UK
• 13 billion issued each year
• Av. 300 per adult per year
• 88% shoppers use free carrier bags
• Av. 3-4 bags each trip
• 45% UK adults bought a “bag for life” – only 12% use them!
(Defra 2007)

Beachwatch 2007
• 7,504 plastic bags were found
• 2.2% of all beach litter
• An average density of 44.5 bags/km surveyed
• Plastic bags ranked 15th in the most common litter items recorded

International Coastal Clean Up
• 2007: over 70 countries worldwide; 587,827 bags were found
• 8% of all litter found
• Plastic bags were 4th in the top 10 most commonly found items list
• No 1 on dangerous debris items list: 9.6% of all animals found dead during the survey had been entangled in plastic bags
Dangers of Plastic Bags
• Plastic bags may entangle/or be ingested several times as animals die and decay
• Plastics eventually break down into plastic “dust” which is ingested by filter feeders

Insert image of jellyfish/plastic bag

Impacts of ingestion
• 177 marine species are reported to ingest items of marine litter
Insert Images – turtles and/or minke whale and/or cuviers beaked whale

Impacts of Microplastic Litter
• Plastic never truly degrades – breaks down into plastic ‘dust’
• Filter feeders, such as barnacles
• Deposit feeders, such as lugworms
• Detritivores, such as sandhoppers
• We may end up ingesting our own plastic litter!

Go Plastic Bag Free
• Modbury – 1st May 2007
• Hay-on-Wye – 1st in Wales
• Selkirk – 1st in Scotland (2008)
• Over 70 towns hoping to be Plastic Bag Free
• London Councils consultation - 90% in favour
• M&S will charge for bags after trial in SW
• www.mcsuk.org – advice and list of towns

Lessons from Modbury
• Communication is the key: make sure everyone understands the reasons behind the campaign – show Rebecca Hoskings’ film, posters and cards in shops etc
• Gather together as many people who will support the campaign - traders, residents, councillors, chamber of commerce etc
• Use the dynamics between traders and groups to encourage others
• Try to crack the harder ones first! e.g butchers, deli’s may naturally have more reservations - the traders in Modbury are willing to talk to others about how they did it
• It is imperative not to replace one form of disposable bag with another! The key is to bring about a change of habit e.g reduce and reuse
• Any bag at point of sale/counter should be charged for, whatever material it is made of
• Charging reduces demand for bags: reduced demand = reduced orders + reduced cost + reduced carbon footprint
• Band together when sourcing alternative bags – economies of scale will mean that a larger order will cost less per item than several small orders
• Do careful research: ensure that alternatives are not harmful to the environment:
• Non GM crops
• Produced in an ethical manner – e.g not sweat shop conditions; fairtrade materials available
• Low carbon footprint
• Cornstarch etc crops not on land better suited for food production e.g. brown field sites preferrable
• Cornstarch/potato starch by-products
• E.g. www.biobags.co.uk / www.alittlegreenbag.com

Government Initiatives
• New waste strategy 2007 (England & Wales) - an end to free single-use plastic carrier bags?
• Already a voluntary agreement working to achieve a 25% reduction in the environmental impact of free carrier bags by end of 2008
• Gordon Brown (1st speech on environment) – eliminate single use carrier bags
• Latest Budget – promises action on bags if supermarkets don’t do something themselves

Scottish Towns and Regions: Planning Stages

Links to these individual websites from www.plasticbagfree.com and www.mcsuk.org

Banchory, Aberdeenshire St Andrews
Dunoon and Taynuilt, Argyll&Bute Ullapool
Dundee Kinross-shire
Edinburgh Peebleshire
North Berwick Arran
Falkirk Mull

Other Countries
San Francisco – going plastic bag free South Africa – thin bags
Kenya – link to Malaria Northern India – floods and cows
Europe – many countries charge for plastic bags China

Australia
Coles Bay, Tasmania Oyster Bay, NSW
Kangaroo Valley, NSW Huskisson, NSW
Birregurra, Victoria Cannons Creek, Victoria
Mogo, NSW

Useful Links
www.plasticbagfree.com www.algalita.org/
www.marine-litter.gpa.unep.org www.marine-litter.net/
www.planetark.com www.beachcombersalert.org/
www.adoptabeach.org.uk

What Else Does MCS Do?
• Beach litter projects: Adopt-a-Beach and Beachwatch www.adoptabeach.org.uk
• Beach Guardians
• Basking shark, turtle and jellyfish surveys
• Cool Seas Scotland education outreach project
• Seasearch divers surveys
• Membership and Turtle sponsorship
• MCS info stall
www.mcsuk.org
Lots of images on the Power Point to choose from.