Single use plastic to be phased out at the National Trust

Press release
Volunteers beach cleaning on The Lizard
Published : 04 Apr 2018

The National Trust today announces it will phase out selling single use plastics at its places by 2022.

The conservation charity has already eliminated plastic from its disposable cups and cutlery, instead choosing plant based biodegradable products, and will withdraw from sale throwaway plastic bottles across its 343 cafes and tea rooms.

The Trust, which cares for over 500 historic places, 775 miles of coastline and 250,000 hectares of countryside, is committed to:

  • Ensuring all its shops are free of single use plastic by 2022.
  • Removing all single use plastic bottles in its cafés by 2022 and swapping them for glass bottles in all sit-down cafés by the end of 2018.
  • Investigating the alternatives for single use plastics in its plant nurseries and plant sales areas.

So far the charity has taken the following steps to reduce and replace single use and other damaging plastics:

  • Replaced all disposable food and drink packaging with products that are fully biodegradable, made from recycled and plant-based materials.
  • Launched a pilot scheme to make reusable and biodegradable hot drinks cups available at its 343 cafés.
  • Provided free drinking water as standard in its cafés and tea rooms.
  • Removed single use plastic bags from its 275 shops and replaced them with paper and jute alternatives.
  • Switched the wrapping on the members' magazine from plastic to a potato starch wrap that can be composted at home.
  • Moved to reusable plant pots and trays in plant shops.

Each year 400 million tonnes of plastic is produced around the world and 40 per cent of it is single-use, meaning it is only used once before being thrown away.

Lizzy Carlyle, Head of Environmental Practices at the National Trust said: “As an organisation committed to creating and maintaining a healthy and more beautiful natural environment, we are committed to using every opportunity to minimise our use of non-renewable resources and cut down our waste.

“The impact single use plastics have on the natural world is particularly alarming.

“Our latest focus has been on how we can eliminate the use of single use plastic in our 343 cafes and tea rooms, whilst ensuring that any disposable packaging we do use has as little impact on the environment as possible.”

Over 150 of the Trust’s coastal properties are also adjacent to beaches, many of which suffer greatly from plastic litter. The Trust is organising numerous beach cleans over the coming months.

Lizzy continued: “As well as removing plastic that is harmful to wildlife and humans, beach cleans also help to make the shoreline look more appealing, raise awareness of the problem and encourage action to reduce plastic use.

“The damage caused by plastics is a complex, global issue.  We’re working with suppliers to come up with solutions to the plastic problem, and in the meantime, are doing all that we can to find innovative ways of reducing the impact of our own operations and investigating new ways of doing more.”

In January, Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to eradicate all avoidable plastic waste in the UK by 2042, and praised coverage by the Daily Mail and BBC Blue Planet II for raising awareness of the damage caused by plastics.

On 27 March the Government announced a consultation on a Deposit Return Scheme for drinks containers in England. The Trust is happy to explore locating bottle banks at its shops and other places we look after.  It will also look at other ways to support the scheme.