A scrutiny task group led by Councillor Mancyia Uddin has been exploring how the council can reduce its use of paper and plastics and contribute to global climate crisis action. The task group made several recommendations in its report to a recent Cabinet meeting.
The report notes how the council has already been contributing to global climate crisis action, including its use of recycled products for at least 12 years, increasing their use each year. For example, 74% of stationary procured are environmentally friendly. Recommendations were made to further progress the aims of being paper and plastic free as well as lessening overall environmental impacts.
The report advocates for partner organisations and contractors working on behalf of the council to minimise their environmental impact, to establish a policy on eco-friendliness in relation to decision making and procurement, and to maximise the use of technology to reduce the environmental impact of the council’s activities.
The task group also made recommendations beyond paper and plastics use, including suggestions that the council forms a ‘climate action working group’ and appoints an accountable officer who would lead on developing and implementing eco-friendly initiatives, and that all councillors and senior officers undergo training on the climate emergency by March 2021.
Chair of the task group and the council’s Climate Change Champion, Cllr Mancyia Uddin presented the report to Cabinet, citing troubling figures in relation to the group’s rationale. Cllr Uddin stated that between 4.8 and 12.7 million tonnes of plastic enter the world’s oceans each year, while 38 per cent of global deforestation is due to mankind’s appetite for paper – equating to the destruction of 4.1 million hectares of forest each year.
Cllr Uddin said: “We have a moral and collective responsibility to respect and look after our environment, and we have made a local commitment to enacting greener, more environmentally friendly policies and practices.
“Conducting this review has been enlightening and allowed the task group to explore the many ways in which the council uses paper and plastic. It was encouraging to see throughout the process the number of ways in which the council is already making positive strides towards reducing our paper and plastics use and this report aims to push us further towards that goal.
“The findings from our research allowed us to come up with recommendations that go far beyond simply reducing our paper and plastics use; enabling the council to further explore and act on different aspects of the climate crisis. The climate crisis is important to our council and the passion for this was evident throughout this review process.
“I hope this report goes some way in reaching our shared vision for an environmentally friendly future.”
Councillor Andy Bowden, the council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport responded to the report on behalf of the cabinet, saying:
“This was an excellent report and I thank Cllr Uddin and the members of the task group for their contribution to the work that was undertaken.
“Conscious of the zero-carbon motion that Cllr Uddin brought to council previously, I have begun to consider how we as a borough will respond in more environmentally friendly and sustainable ways to the challenges before us, including the regeneration of our communities and the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Change must start somewhere, so it is my intention to build on the work of this task group and to address the council’s climate change emergency by setting up a Climate Change Commission. My aim will be to bring together partners from across the borough to consider the St Helens response to climate change, to explore what we can do in our individual organisations and what more can be done by working together.
“Tackling this problem will not be easy and while we will act in our role as community and civic leaders to reduce our waste and minimise our environmental impact, we must all play our part.”
The cabinet agreed the report unanimously and Cllr Bowden assured members of a detailed response from cabinet on how the recommendations would be adopted and put into action.
Read the report on page 35 of the Cabinet agenda papers online.