Anglian Water announces tough-tackling plastics pledge

Coast at Southend Picture: Tim George

Coast at Southend Picture: Tim George - Credit: Archant

Anglian Water hopes to form a coalition of organisations to reduce problem plastic. David Hartley explains.

Beach Care event supported by Anglian Water Picture: Richard Addison Photography

Beach Care event supported by Anglian Water Picture: Richard Addison Photography - Credit: Richard Addison

As the sunshine beats down, our beautiful coastal areas are frequented by more visitors who want to appreciate the natural beauty on offer and enjoy a trip to our much loved beaches.

However, we’ve all seen the huge impact single-use plastics are having on our environment. We know a truckload of plastic is entering our oceans every minute, with rivers and watercourses acting as the highways for plastic waste pollution out to sea.

And the public will and desire to do something to address the problem has never been stronger. We want to help everyone in our region do their bit. And that’s why Anglian Water is stepping up to lead the way in how we make, use and dispose of problem plastics across the East of England

We’re the first water company to announce a radical commitment to rid our region of plastic waste by 2030. An ambitious plan, yes, but a pledge that we can all get behind in order to protect our environment.

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Plastic coalition

Plastics are important and useful materials that form part of everyday life in our homes and businesses but as one of the largest water companies in the country, serving a tenth of the UK population, we see first hand the problems caused by single-use plastics in our equipment and our environment. From blockages in our own pipes caused by people flushing the wrong things down the toilet, to litter washed onto our much-loved beaches; meaning we’re centrally placed to bring the right people together to tackle the issue at its core.

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And while, of course, we’ll be looking at our own business to rid it of any plastic which cannot be reused, recycled or composted; right from those used in our company offices to across our extensive supply chain, we also know we need to look much broader to really make a difference outside of our business, in the environment. That’s where it really matters. It’s a tall order which goes beyond simply saying we’re not going to use plastic cups or cutlery anymore.

Our plastic coalition will be made up of big business, manufacturers, retailers and suppliers from across the region to tackle problem plastics across their whole life-cycle; from manufacture to disposal. The scope of this taskforce goes beyond what people might traditionally think of as being the responsibility of a water company, but it’s an important issue to our customers and the right thing to do for the environment and future generations.

Turning the tide

We want to trial things like working with clothes manufacturers on how we might be able to design better materials that don’t shed plastic fibres, or with white goods companies about developing better filters on washing machines that capture plastic particles from our clothes.

The group will even look at finding new ways of reusing discarded plastics or those filtered from the water treatment processes to make them into a valuable commodity once again. We may not have all the answers, but if we can start to shift how we manufacture plastics and give plastic waste a viable, economic value, we stand a fighting chance of turning the tide on this battle.

And, we already have a proven track record of standing against plastic wastefulness.

Our Refill scheme, in partnership with City to Sea, allows members of the public to refill their water bottles in local shops and cafes at no cost at all. This works fantastically to prevent people purchasing disposable water bottles, and reducing the amount of single-use plastic waste across the region.

This is supported by our commitment to waterway preservation and conservation through our RiverCare and BeachCare initiatives. Run in partnership with Keep Britain Tidy, volunteers help to clear local rivers and beaches from litter and plastics, having collected more than 50 tonnes of litter in the last year alone.

There is no denying it; the plastic problem is a massive challenge - not just for our region, but for the entire world.

And the public will to help tackle the problem has never been stronger. As custodians of this planet, we all have a duty to protect the wildlife and nature that surrounds us, so let’s pick up our bags for life, brandish our reusable bottles and recycle, reinvent and reuse.

We all have to take responsibility, so join us in making a difference - it’s time to make a change…

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