Single use plastic to be phased out at the National Trust

Today we’ve announced our ambition to phase out single use plastics at our places by 2022.  Each year 400 million tonnes of plastic is produced around the world and 40 per cent of it is single-use, meaning it’s only used once before being thrown away.  Here’s how we’re playing our part in tackling the problem.

National Trust rangers litter picking on the beach at Penrose, Cornwall

We’ve already eliminated plastic from our disposable cups and cutlery, instead choosing plant based biodegradable products, and will withdraw from sale throwaway plastic bottles across our 343 cafes and tea rooms. Today we’ve committed to:

  • Ensuring all of our shops are free of single use plastic by 2022.
  • Removing all single use plastic bottles in our cafés by 2022 and swapping them for glass bottles in all sit-down cafés by the end of 2018.
  • Investigating the alternatives for single use plastics in our plant nurseries and plant sales areas.

So far, we’ve taken the following steps to reduce and replace single use and other damaging plastics:

  • Replaced all disposable food and drink packaging with products that are fully biodegradable, made from recycled and plant-based materials.
  • Launched a pilot scheme to make reusable and biodegradable hot drinks cups available at our 343 cafés.
  • Provided free drinking water in our cafés and tea rooms.
  • Removed single use plastic bags from our 275 shops and replaced them with paper and jute alternatives.
  • Switched the wrapping on our members’ magazine from plastic to a potato starch wrap that can be composted at home.
  • Moved to reusable plant pots and trays in plant shops.

“As an organisation committed to creating and maintaining a healthy and more beautiful natural environment, we are committed to using every opportunity to minimise our use of non-renewable resources and cut down our waste.

“The impact single use plastics have on the natural world is particularly alarming.

“Our latest focus has been on how we can eliminate the use of single use plastic in our 343 cafes and tea rooms, whilst ensuring that any disposable packaging we do use has as little impact on the environment as possible.”

Over 150 of the Trust’s coastal properties are also adjacent to beaches, many of which suffer greatly from plastic litter. The Trust is organising numerous beach cleans over the coming months.

“As well as removing plastic that is harmful to wildlife and humans, beach cleans also help to make the shoreline look more appealing, raise awareness of the problem and encourage action to reduce plastic use.

“The damage caused by plastics is a complex, global issue.  We’re working with suppliers to come up with solutions to the plastic problem, and in the meantime, are doing all that we can to find innovative ways of reducing the impact of our own operations and investigating new ways of doing more.”

Lizzy Carlyle, Head of Environmental Practices at the National Trust

In January, Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to eradicate all avoidable plastic waste in the UK by 2042, and praised coverage by the Daily Mail and BBC Blue Planet II for raising awareness of the damage caused by plastics.

On 27 March the Government announced a consultation on a Deposit Return Scheme for drinks containers in England. Here at the Trust we’d be happy to explore locating bottle banks at its shops and other places we look after, and we’ll also look at other ways to support the scheme.

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