local government
voluntary sector

Tackling and Reducing Plastics Pollution Across the UK

local government

voluntary sector

08:45 - 15:40

Wednesday 27 March 2019

Cavendish Conference Centre, Central London

This Forum provides attendees with the opportunity to discuss the latest developments pertaining to combating the rising tide of plastics polluting the UK’s natural environment. Attendees will hear from key government bodies on the latest policy developments and strategies designed to reduce plastic waste and encourage recycling across the supply chain. Moreover, best practice case studies will demonstrate how local authorities, charities and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are working collaboratively towards a sustainable, zero-waste plastic economy.


This Forum is designed specifically for local authorities. Typical job titles include:

  • Leads for Community Services
  • Directors – Environment
  • Environment Officers
  • Leads for Resources and Waste Management
  • Cabinet Members – Environment
  • Councillors
  • Waste Managers
  • Heads of Sustainability
  • Waste Management Officers
  • Heads of Sustainability
  • Project Directors
  • Recycling Officers
  • Supplier Relationship Managers
  • Communications Directors
  • Campaign Leads

This Forum is also open to the Higher Education, Voluntary and Private Sectors to encourage networking and debate.

Key Speakers Confirmed:
  • Chris Preston, Waste and Recycling Team, Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
  • Trevor Nicoll, Junior Vice President, Chartered Institution of Wastes Management
  • Judy Proctor, E&B Future Regulation Plastics Strategy Lead, Environment Agency 
  • Helen Bird, Resource Manager Specialist, WRAP
View the agenda and additional speakers


The issue of plastic pollution and its widespread detrimental impact on the environment has elicited significant public and political attention following the broadcast of the BBC series Blue Planet II in late 2017, which highlighted the scale of the problem. Indeed, a 2018 study by the University of Hull and YouGov revealed that 92% of Britons are concerned about the negative impact that plastic pollution in the oceans will have on future generations, with more than three quarters (78%) expressing a desire to reduce their use of single-use plastics. However, the UK still produces nearly 5 million tonnes of plastic waste annually, which ends up polluting our land, oceans, water supply and coastlines and causing severe damage to wildlife.

Political rhetoric and action soon followed public sentiment on the issue. The Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, spoke about the use of single-use plastics in early 2018, highlighting it as a key area of concern. In January 2018, Theresa May pledged that her government would “reduce the demand for plastic, reduce the number of plastics in circulation and improve our recycling rates” by setting out the 25 Year Environment Plan, which included a commitment to achieve zero avoidable plastic waste by 2042. This is in addition to the increased national recycling target of 53% for plastic packaging in 2018, rising to 55% in 2019 and 57% in 2020.

Moreover, a raft of specific policy measures have been introduced to tackle plastic waste from production and consumption stages through to the end-of-use and end-of-life stages. For example, the Government’s ban on microbead usage in cosmetics and personal care products came into force in January 2018, while a consultation on using the tax system and financial incentives to tackle plastics pollution was launched in March 2018, receiving 162,000 responses and overwhelming public support. The Government also announced plans for a deposit return scheme in the same month, whilst the rest of 2018 saw additional policy initiatives designed to cut plastic waste, such as proposing an extension of the plastic bag charge to all retailers and raising it from 5p to 10p, and establishing a new partnership with UK Scouts to inspire young people to take action to combat plastic pollution. Meanwhile, non-profit organisations such as WRAP are looking at eliminating this linear production and usage system entirely and moving towards a sustainable, circular plastic ecosystem.

In order to effectively tackle this pressing issue, meet national recycling targets, and reduce the use and waste of plastics in the UK, local authorities must take rapid, evidence-based action in collaboration with industry, trade associations, charities, community groups and research organisations. Lessons must be learnt about what works and what doesn’t, and a holistic view accounting for the entire plastic life cycle will be essential to achieving central government commitments and ensuring our natural environment is protected from further degradation.



Registration, Refreshments and Networking


Chair's Opening Address

Hugo Tagholm, Chief Executive, Surfers Against Sewage (CONFIRMED)


Morning Keynote: Enhancing the Scale, Ease and Effectiveness of Plastic Recycling and Reduction

  • Highlighting the key provisions and commitments in the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, including how the tax system and financial incentives can be used to combat plastic pollution
  • Pledging £20 million funding for plastics innovation to reduce the harm that plastics do to our environment, covering research, leadership and knowledge exchange, and business innovation
  • Extending the plastic bag charge to all retailers, subject to a consultation at the end of 2018, in order to further reduce the amount of plastic waste ending up in landfill and oceans
  • Establishing a partnership with UK Scouts to inspire and empower young people to tackle plastic pollution, including creating and distributing a new Plastics and Marine Environment Activity Pack
  • Reporting on the environmental impact of the microbead ban, and exploring how to move forward in tackling other forms of unnecessary plastic waste
  • Introducing a deposit return scheme in England for single-use plastics to incentivise recycling; detailing plans for implementation and monitoring

Chris Preston, Deputy Director – Waste and Recycling Team, Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Committing to Concerted Action to Tackle Plastic Pollution

  • Investing £750,000 in a dedicated Plastics and Sustainability team for tackling plastics pollution and reducing our single use plastics
  • Working with businesses, trade associations, partners, water companies, NGO’s and community action groups to reduce the amount of plastic pollution across land, rivers and UK coastline
  • Promoting a circular economy approach, preserving value in plastic as a resource and so striving towards a reduction in plastic waste from the very start of the manufacturing process
  • Increasing local engagement to change public behaviour and encouraging greater community action to tackle plastic pollution
  • Using scientific and evidence based approaches to recommend practical interventions and a coherent regulatory framework and supporting leading academics researching the sources, pathways and impacts of plastics in the environment

Judy Proctor, E&B Future Regulation Plastics Strategy Lead, Environment Agency (CONFIRMED)


Sponsored Session


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Effectively Reducing the Use of Plastics and Encouraging Recycling; Local Council Perspective

  • Committing to, and enhancing, efforts to tackle and reduce plastic pollution across the borough of Wandsworth
  • Working in collaboration with local schools, community groups, local businesses and waste management partners with the aim of successfully reducing the use of plastic
  • Partnering with environmental charity Hubbub in Putney to encourage recycling through the For Fish’s Sake campaign, which reduced riverside litter around London Bridge by 32% last year
  • Evaluating plastic use across all local authority buildings with a view to phasing out all unnecessary usage, and actively encouraging local council staff to be responsible in their use of plastics
  • Exploring new ways in which plastics can be reused; liaising with recycling industry chiefs involved in devising new, innovative uses for recycled plastic, for example as a replacement for bitumen in road building and resurfacing

Councillor Steffi Sutters, Cabinet Member – Community Services and Open Spaces, Wandsworth London Borough Council (CONFIRMED)

Paul Chadwick, Director of Environment and Community Services, London Boroughs of Richmond and Wandsworth (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Designing and Delivering Effective Campaigns to Minimise the Consumption and Waste of Plastic Bottles

  • Committing to a national campaign designed to cut plastic waste by highlighting the environmental dangers of plastic pollution
  • Supporting and running ‘Refill’ in Banbury and Bicester following the scheme’s launch in September 2017
  • Detailing how Refill identifies businesses which offer free drinking water via a smartphone application, encouraging the use of reusable bottles and helping to cut plastic waste
  • Publicising the campaign by offering free reusable water bottles through a social media prize draw, and setting out plans to expand the scheme across the whole of Cherwell
  • Consulting with town and parish councils to investigate the possibility of installing water fountains throughout the district to further encourage use of reusable water bottles

Councillor Debbie Pickford, Lead Member – Clean and Green, Cherwell District Council (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Lunch and Networking


Afternoon Keynote: Effectively Turning Plastics Reduction Proposals into Reality

  • Assisting the resources and waste management sector in engaging fully and proactively with Government to ensure that ambitions set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan are translated into meaningful action
  • Adopting a use-based approach to decision and policy making, categorising plastics according to their different environmental impacts and designing effective policy measures accordingly
  • Emphasising that there will be no ‘silver bullet’ solution to eliminating avoidable plastic waste by 2042; a range of bespoke technical, economic, communicative, and command & control measures will be necessary
  • Detailing and explaining crucial interventions to effectively combat plastics pollution, including developing a smart Extender Producer Responsibility framework, a clear strategy for bioplastics, and supporting innovation and infrastructure development

Trevor Nicoll, Junior Vice President, Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Working in Partnership to Create a Sustainable Plastic System

  • Leading a holistic, collaborative initiative entitled the UK Plastic Pact as part of the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan
  • Aiming to keep plastic out of the ocean and in the economy by forging partnerships with businesses, trade associations, local authorities and NGOs
  • Focusing primarily on plastic packaging: working to eliminate single-use plastics, ensuring packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable, and increasing the collection and recycling of plastic packaging
  • Detailing what action needs to be taken by local government and the recycling sector; working with Defra, local authorities, retailers, brands and recyclers to develop a Framework for Greater Consistency in household recycling
  • Developing a reformed Producer Responsibility system to provide funding to increase the reach and impact of WRAP’s national Recycle Now campaign

Helen Bird, Resource Manager Specialist, WRAP (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Understanding the Role of Research in Combating Plastics Pollution

  • Securing £200,000 in DEFRA funding to launch a new research project analysing the impact of tyres and clothing on the marine environment, spearheaded by the International Marine Litter Research Unit
  • Submitting evidence to the UK Houses of Parliament in relation to the Environmental Audit Committee’s enquiry into microplastics, helping to supplement the scientific knowledge base underpinning crucial policy interventions
  • Undertaking research in collaboration with leading scientists worldwide, and developing expertise to help guide industry and better inform educational and artistic initiatives that raise awareness about plastics pollution
  • Producing outstanding research impact, with the REF 2014 panel considering the university’s work on microplastics as demonstrating “outstanding impact in terms of its reach and significance”
  • Exploring next steps for research into plastic pollutants and strategies to reduce harmful plastic pollution of our natural environments

Professor Richard Thompson OBE, Professor of Marine Biology and Head of the International Marine Litter Research Unit, University of Plymouth (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Inspiring Young People to Tackle Plastics Pollution

  • Partnering with the Government to inspire and empower young people to tackle plastic pollution
  • Building on the existing work of the Scouts through their ‘A Million Hands’ programme, empowering young people to take action on social issues they care about
  • Working with the Canal & River Trust to collect plastic and other litter from canals and rivers across the country
  • Receiving a plastics and marine environment activity pack funded and produced by the Government to promote education and action on plastic pollution
  • Providing an international exchange visit programme, allowing Scouts from the UK and Kenya to visit one another and learn about the importance of reducing plastic consumption

Tim Kidd, UK Chief Commissioner, The Scout Association (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Chair's Summary and Close

*programme subject to change

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