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October 16, 2018 2:16 PM
By Kevin Daws in Lewes Liberal Democrats


(NB: This letter was sent to large local retailers. A slightly different version was sent to smaller shops.)

We are writing to you from the local Liberal Democrats to encourage businesses to take steps to reduce plastic waste in our town. We have been working at the Town and District Council to reduce the presence of single use plastic, improve recycling, and encourage re-usable packaging such as re-usable coffee cups; and we are founder members of the "Plastic Free Lewes" initiative.

As you may know, plastic waste is a global phenomenon. Recent film and television documentaries such as 'Blue Planet II' and 'Plastic Ocean' have shone a spotlight on this problem, which poisons our oceans and blights our landscapes. In Britain, it is estimated that over 2.5 billion cups are thrown away every year and wider plastics are known to break down into micro-plastics that enter the ecosystem and cause major damage to our food chain.

The Liberal Democrats have been leading the awareness-raising on this issue nationally and were responsible for the introduction of the 5p charge on plastic bags while in government, which has slashed usage in England by over 80%. The Liberal Democrats have been campaigning for a charge on coffee cups since September 2016, and were the only party to include the policy in their 2017 Manifesto. But we also believe that you as one of the town's biggest retailers will want to show your customers how you are taking action yourself, rather than waiting for national legislation. We are writing to suggest a few specific actions you can take which would make a significant difference:

  1. Ensure you offer a discount for customers who provide their own reusable coffee cups
  2. Use biodegradable packaging whenever possible
  3. Improve your recycling facilities and introduce specific recycling for cups, cans and plastic bottles to ensure that customers are able to dispose of their items easily and sustainably
  4. Call on your organisation to pledge to further reduce the presence of single use plastics in your shops, and introduce 'plastic free' products (such as aisles of loose vegetables) by August 2018
  5. Feature specific notices and posters to show the efforts you are taking to deliver a 'plastic free' future

We look forward to hearing from you and would be glad to arrange a meeting to discuss your approach in Lewes.

With very best wishes,

District Councillor, Vic Ient, and Town Campaigner, Oli Henman

Lewes Liberal Democrats