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UK town Malmesbury awarded plastic free status by Surfers Against Sewage, shows grassroots activity

Local residents and community action group Malmesbury Against Plastics (MAP) started the campaign in 2018 after realising the threat plastic poses to the environment.

Registering with the SAS plastic free communities movement provided a roadmap to pull together key organisations and businesses in the town to put in place a five-point plan.

The objectives included setting up a community led steering group, instigating the SAS plastic free schools education programme, getting council commitment and working with businesses, organisations and community groups to spread the word and minimise the amount of disposable plastics they use.

“The local community have been incredibly supportive and ready to take on board the plastic free message," said Francesca Fearnley of MAP.

"Community spaces such as the library, museum, Riverside Community Centre, St Mary’s Scout hall and even the fire station have all signed up to be plastic free allies."

Businesses in the town got behind the project and worked hard to reduce plastic packaged items for sale in their stores and improve recycling.

“Getting plastic free status feels fantastic and is an acknowledgement of all the hard work and perseverance Malmesbury has put in to reducing plastic waste and raising awareness of this issue," said Mandy Dobson of Malmesbury Against Plastics.

"Obviously the town is not completely plastic free but this is a welcome milestone on our journey to solving the problem of single use plastic.”

Rachel Yates, SAS plastic free communities project officer, said: “It’s great to see the work that Malmesbury has done to reduce the availability of avoidable plastics, raise awareness and encourage people to refill and reuse.

“We have over six hundred communities across the UK working to reduce single use plastic and the impact it has on our environment.

"Every step those communities and the individuals in them take is a step towards tackling the problem at source, challenging our throwaway culture and encouraging the habit and system changes we need to see.”


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