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NLWA launches London’s first ‘Low Plastic Zone’

The North London Waste Authority (NLWA) has launched the first-ever ‘Low Plastic Zone’ in Cowcross Street in Islington today (5 February), with over three quarters of businesses in the area having successfully reduced their single-use plastic usage.

The Hope Pub, Cowcross Street, Islington

Key shopping areas within Haringey, Camden, Barnet, Enfield, Hackney and Waltham Forest are expected to follow suit to reach NLWA’s newly-inaugurated ‘Low Plastic Zone’ status.

With the public increasingly concerned over the environmental impacts of single-use plastic, the launch of the ‘Low Plastic Zone’ follows a nationwide survey, commissioned by NLWA, which found that 93 per cent of respondents said that they would favour a shop that had cut down on its use of single-use plastic.

The survey found that some consumers are going to great lengths to avoid using single-use plastic – 15 per cent of respondents have eaten a takeaway meal with fingers rather than accept plastic cutlery, whilst 13 per cent have gone thirsty because they didn’t want to buy a plastic water bottle.

Councillor Clyde Loakes, Chair of NLWA, commented: “Our research shows that the majority of people are trying hard to reduce their use of single-use plastic but are frustrated at how difficult it is to avoid when shopping or eating or drinking on-the-go. Reducing the amount of waste we all create, and single-use plastics in particular, is essential for helping tackle the climate emergency. North London Waste Authority is committed to helping residents and businesses do this.

“We know that businesses want to reduce their environmental impact, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s good for business. People are telling us that they are more likely to use companies who are taking action in this area so we are confident that this flagship initiative will be a win-win-win; for businesses, for consumers and of course, for the planet.”

Speaking at the launch of the ‘Low Plastic Zone’ at Cowcross Street’s Lazybones restaurant, Councillor Rowena Champion, Executive Member for Environment and Transport from Islington Council, said: “The ‘Low Plastic Zone’ on Cowcross Street is an innovative, practical step towards cutting down on single-use plastics and shows one of the many ways we are working with local people and businesses to tackle the climate emergency.

“We have been encouraged and inspired by the response from the public and businesses alike so far; it is clear many people who live and work in the borough are willing to do their bit in helping reduce single-use plastics. We look forward to more businesses in the area and beyond signing up.”

Plastic-free shopping

The introduction of NLWA’s ‘Low Plastic Zones’ comes amid a rising trend of ‘plastic-free’ shopping, with some retailers responding to the public backlash against single-use plastics by establishing dedicated plastic-free ranges.

Dutch supermarket chain Ekoplaza has taken the lead in providing consumers with alternatives to plastic – since launching a plastic-free aisle in one of its Amsterdam stores in February 2018, the supermarket has taken its concept, the ‘Mobe-Aisle’, on tour around Europe.

UK supermarkets are also beginning to make the move towards plastic-free shopping, with Thornton’s Budgens recently launching an ‘Unpackaged’ range of 200 plastic-free products in collaboration with campaign group A Plastic Planet, after introducing a plastic-free aisle in its Camden Belsize Store in 2018.

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