Reduce the use: turning off the plastic tap

Concerns over the harm single use plastic is causing our environment has been increasing both in the wider population and within the walls of Oxfordshire County Council. 

With the undeniable consequences of the toxic results of plastic, we are putting a number of steps and changes in place to reduce single use plastics in council buildings across Oxfordshire.

Single use plastic task force

A cross-team single use plastic task force was created last year with the aim of reviewing which items were in use across our buildings and to see if these could be reduced or replaced with more sustainable alternatives.

Colleagues from Facilities Management (FM), Procurement, Environment and Waste worked with a consultant from Oxford Brookes University to speak to building managers and carry out a single use plastic audit. The results were encouraging, as many members of our workforce were already taking action to reduce personal plastic use. For example:

  • Plastic stirrers have been removed from the Common Hall Café

  • Plastic cups have been replaced with recyclable paper drinking cones at water stations

  • Milk is now ordered in larger containers

  • The fire service is encouraging the use of refillable water bottles

  • In many schools, cling film has been replaced with foil

There are also many other changes happening across our services. For example, at the County Hall, the facilities team have replaced all plastic cutlery with wooden versions. Furthermore, all disposable cups and take away containers are now made of vegware, not plastic. This is a compostable product, which is plant based. All platters for large functions now have reusable plastic lids which prevent the need to dispose of them.

Cllr Yvonne Constance is Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for the Environment said: “Disposable plastics are everywhere. There are now more fast-food outlets, more shops resorting to packaging and plastics. Not all packaging is bad, as it can protect food and make it last longer, reducing food waste, but the key is to reduce, re-use and recycle. We hope to make the younger generation more aware of the impact of plastic on the environment. We are asking them and others to give us their views, ideas and tips on how we can make it easier for people to use less plastic and other materials, increase the amounts recycled and dispose of them properly”

Further to the above initiatives, the council has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2030 and continues to support the communities that we serve.

If you’re interested in waste and recycling events, you can join a number of activities, which are detailed here.

If you are interested in a role with Oxfordshire County Council, please visit https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/jobs