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 help local authorities reduce plastic waste and encourage recycling across the supply chain. Moreover, delegates will learn from proven case studies and examples of best practice how local authorities can effectively recycle and reduce plastics, implement sustainable waste management processes and educate future generations to prevent further environmental degradation.


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
  • Councillor Steffi Sutters, Cabinet Member – Community Services and Open Spaces, Wandsworth London Borough Council
  • Anne Hitch, Communications Manager, RECOUP
View the agenda and additional speakers


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)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


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

  • Enhancing efforts to tackle and reduce plastic pollution across the borough of Wandsworth
  • Working in collaboration with local schools, community groups, local business owners and waste management partners to reduce the use of plastic across Wandsworth
  • 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: Establishing Partnerships to Deliver Effective Recycling Campaigns - Charity Perspective

  • Detailing key findings from RECOUP’s Local Authority Disposal ‘On the Go’ Survey, and how these can be learnt from to inform future recycling strategies
  • Providing expert technical support, training and consultancy services for local government and waste contractor to develop efficient plastics recycling schemes
  • Joining forces with local authorities in the Norfolk Waste Partnership to deliver an educational programme inspiring children to recycle by demonstrating fashionable garments can be made from recycled plastic bottles
  • Collaborating with Corby Borough Council to design and implement a Pledge2Recycle Plastics project, involving distributing leaflets to nearly 30,000 homes to reduce confusion around what plastics can and cannot be recycled in brown bins

Anne Hitch, Communications Manager, RECOUP (CONFIRMED)


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
  • Responding to the Government’s 2018 Resources and Waste Strategy, and examining what role local authorities have to play in supporting effective implementation
  • 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 Across Sectors 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: Forging Effective Local Partnerships to Create a Plastic-Free Community

  • Working with Surfers Against Sewage to develop and implement a local initiative making Chester the first North-West city to eliminate single-use plastic drinking straws
  • Detailing the process of establishing a community-led steering group and how this assisted in effectively coordinating local initiatives for maximum impact 
  • Outlining the advantages and challenges of rolling out the SAS Plastic Free Schools education programme, and assessing the impact it has had on local children 
  • Sharing insights and guidance around securing buy-in from Chester City Council, local businesses, organisations and community groups 
  • Exploring what more can be done across the region to further reduce plastics pollution and facilitate sustainable plastics usage, and how local partnerships will play a key role in this 

Helen Tandy, Coordinator – Chester and District, Friends of the Earth (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Chair's Summary and Close

*programme subject to change

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. Moreover, waste import bans imposed by foreign countries are costing councils up to £500,000 a year in recycling expenses, with many local authorities having to drastically review their local recycling policies and procedures.

Political action soon followed public sentiment on the issue of plastics pollution. 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.

In order to meet this target, December 2018 saw DEFRA release the Resources and Waste Strategy, which sets out how the Government plans to minimise waste, promote resource efficiency, increase household recycling and move towards a circular plastic economy. 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 has pursued additional policy initiatives designed to cut plastic waste, such as opening a consultation on a deposit return scheme in February 2019, and increasing the plastic bag charge from 5p to 10p from January 2020. 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.

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

Chris joined the Civil Service after finishing his studies at Cardiff University. The early part of his career was spent in the Benefits Agency. Since then he has held a variety of posts which have included inspection work, corporate services and various policy and delivery roles in marine and fisheries,  animal health, water and climate change adaptation.  In 2003 he also gained an MA in Public Services Management from York University. In January 2016 he took up post as Defra’s Deputy Director for Recycling and Waste.

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

Judy Proctor works for the Environment Agency; an organisation that works to protect and improve the environment to make it a better place for people and wildlife in England. This includes reducing the impacts of flooding, promoting sustainable development and delivering UK environmental policies.

She currently leads the national strategy setting the strategic direction for the organisation’s work on plastics: reducing plastics in the environment, preserving the value of plastics in the circular economy and highlighting emerging issues. She has over twenty year’s operational and national experience in delivering environmental improvements. Many of these outcomes are delivered in partnership with partners, businesses, customers and government.

Judy champions the environment locally in her roles on the Integrated Territorial Investment Board for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, the Local Nature Partnership, as a member of Exeter University’s Advisory Panel and as judge for Cornwall’s Sustainable Business Awards.

Anne Hitch, Communications Manager, RECOUP

Anne is the Project Lead for RECOUP’s Pledge2Recycle Plastics programme.   Anne works closely with Local Authorities to develop collaborative plastics recycling communications aimed at reducing household confusion on recycling at kerbside.   A key part of her role is also to work with brand owners and other stakeholders delivering event recycling and education activations at festivals, Air Shows and sporting events.   Anne also leads on the R-Generation, KS1, KS2 and KS3 work delivering plastics recycling assemblies and education direct to schools.   Anne holds a BA(Hons) in Business Management and has considerable experience in managing people, teams and projects.

Helen Bird, Resource Manager Specialist, WRAP

Helen Bird has worked in resource management for over 11 years, and has been at WRAP for 9 years. Helen has always had a passion for sustainability and recycling in particular. Her experience and expertise covers local authority collections, sorting and reprocessing and on-pack recycling information. She oversees The UK Plastics Pact, a whole chain approach to tackling the issue of plastic waste. She leads many of the technical work streams Pact including: eliminating unnecessary/problematic plastics, recyclability and composting, flexibles, recycled content and end markets. Prior to her roles in the field of resource management, Helen held marketing positions in various food and non-food manufacturing companies.

Trevor Nicoll, Junior Vice President, Chartered Institution of Wastes Management

Trevor is the Head of Waste Resources for the Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service a strategic partnership between Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council.  Prior to this, he was Head of Recycling, Waste and Fleet Services at Newcastle under Lyme Borough Council in North Staffordshire.  Trevor has extensive experience of issues affecting waste services in local authorities, including insourcing recycling collections from the contractor, procuring waste treatment contracts and collection vehicles, operating trade waste services and delivering efficiencies during highly austere times for local authorities.  Trevor has introduced integrated in-cab technology, back office and web-services for his last two authorities.

Trevor is a Trustee of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) and a Member of the Executive Committee, helping to steer the Institution forward as it adjusts to a changing global and local environment. He is committed to developing the role of the CIWM in an ever-shifting waste & resource space. Trevor will be the President of the CIWM from November 2019.

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

Steffi Sutters was elected as a Councillor in the London Borough of Wandsworth in 2010 In 2014 she joined the senior leadership team and currently holds the position of Executive Member for Community Services & Open Spaces. She takes a special interest in environmental issues, upcycling and waste reduction, and has worked on various initiatives to highlight and discourage reliance on single use plastic. Her interest extends through her work with the Western Riverside Waste Authority to support for reform of the UK packaging producer responsibility system. She has fond childhood memories of the original Deposit Return System that the Government is now looking to revive, as the income derived from returning ‘pop’ bottles gave a much needed boost to her weekly pocket money.

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

Paul Chadwick is the Director of Environment for Wandsworth Council. He holds the same position for the neighbouring borough of Richmond and as such looks after environment related issues for half a million of London’s residents, geographically covering a wedge of the capital that stretches from a view of the Houses of Parliament to the Green Belt that surrounds it. He has held previous positions at London Boroughs of Barnet and Hammersmith & Fulham as well as working in the private sector across Surrey and Berkshire. He is deeply committed to  working for an improved environment for this and future generations, including his two young (ish) children.

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

Richard wrote the first paper describing the accumulation of micropalstics in the ocean and much of his work over the last two decades has focused on marine debris; its sources, distribution and impacts as well as potential solutions. He has over 170 publications (H-index 54) and leads an extensive research portfolio. He was a co-author of the European Union Marine Strategy Framework Directive text on marine litter and has been a member of numerous international working groups on marine litter including GESAMP, NCEAS, UNEP, UNIRP.  In 2014 he presented his research to the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, at his Our Ocean meeting in Washington. He has also presented to scientific and policy leads from OECD and G7 nations. Recent work by his team directly informed the UK Government decision to introduce legislation on the use of microplastics in cosmetics and contributed to the Environmental Audit Committee report of Sustainable Fashion. In 2017 Thompson received the Marsh Award for Marine and Freshwater Conservation for his work on plastics; and was recognised in the New Year Honours List, with an OBE for services to Marine Science. He leads the International Marine Litter Research Unit at Plymouth.

Helen Tandy, Coordinator – Chester and District, Friends of the Earth

Helen’s main role is as a Partner and Chartered Financial Planner for Castlefield based in Manchester. She joined Castlefield as she wanted to specialise in ethically screened financial advice. It is rewarding to be able to link her concerns for the environment, food security and wildlife within her work.
She is also Co-Ordinator for Friends of the Earth Chester and District; a voluntary roll. She has been campaigning for many years and became more concerned over this time with waste and plastic pollution.
Friends of the Earth started campaigning on plastic pollution in December 2017, and chose to work with Surfers Against Sewages to achieve a Plastic Free Chester.

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