Schools are being urged to stop using single-use plastic by 2022 in an effort to combat plastic pollution.
They’ll be encouraged to replace plastic products such as carrier bags, straws and food containers with sustainable alternatives.
Education secretary Damian Hinds believes that all schools in England should be following in the footsteps of Georgeham Primary School in Devon, which became the first school in the UK to become completely single-use plastic free in early 2018.
The Conservative MP for East Hampshire, who was previously exchequer secretary to the treasury and employment minister, explains that while it’s “not always easy” to stop using plastic, it is a necessary change.
“In my first school visit as education secretary almost a year ago, the very first question I was asked by a pupil was what we can do to limit the damage of plastic on the environment,” he says.
“Reducing our use of plastic clearly is an important and timely issue which has captured the interest and the imagination of everyone in society.”
He continues, emphasising the damage that excessive use of plastic can have on the environment and wildlife.
“The leadership shown by schools like Georgeham Primary in going single-use plastic free is an impressive example for us all – and I want work to support every school in the country following their lead by 2022.
“It’s not always easy but we all have a role to play in driving out avoidable plastic waste, and, with more schools joining others and leading by example, we can help to leave our planet in a better state than we found it.”
Environment secretary Michael Gove recently announced that the cost of carrier bags across England will be increasing from 5p to 10p in order to reduce plastic consumption.
The changes are going to come into effect in January 2020.
Julian Thomas, headteacher of the school, has praised Hinds for encouraging schools to go single-use plastic free.
However, many parents have been providing their children with washable sandwich bags following the school’s efforts to cut out single-use plastic.
“All of our pupils enthusiastically played their part in helping the school reduce excessive single use plastic consumption,” he says.
“I am confident children across the rest of the country would also welcome the challenge.
The school began going single-use plastic free by making small changes, such as replacing cling film with foil in the cafeteria.