Taking action on plastics in Plymouth

Organisations across Plymouth are working together to tackle the issue of single use plastics and plastic pollution.

As Britain’s Ocean City we are only too aware of the effects of plastic pollution and want to do all we can to reduce the amount of waste and the devastating effect it can have on our environment. A starting point for this is looking at the quick wins of reducing our reliance on single-use plastics like straws, disposable cups and plastic cutlery.

New Plastics Code of Conduct launched

A new code of conduct to help businesses, community organisations and individuals cut down on single use plastics has been launched by partners in Plymouth.

The Plan for Plastics Code of Conduct was launched jointly by members of the Plymouth, Britain’s Ocean City Plastics Taskforce and Devon and Plymouth Chamber of Commerce at the Chamber’s City Conversations event.

The Code gives lots of handy hints and tips such as encouraging the use of reusable cups, making sure events are eco-friendly by using recyclable materials including cups, plates and cutlery, and thinking about packaging when ordering supplies.

 Plastics Code of Conduct [PDF, 245KB]

Taking action on Plastics in Plymouth launch details

Plymouth achieves Plastic Free City status

Campaigners in Plymouth are celebrating as the city has been awarded Plastic Free Community status in recognition of the hard work of partners across the city to reduce single use plastics and tackle plastic pollution.

The accolade was confirmed by Surfers Against Sewage, and comes on the anniversary of Plymouth achieving Plastic Free Communities status for its historic waterfront, and the launch of the city’s Plan for Plastics.

Since Plymouth’s Plan for Plastics was launched in June 2018:

  • 118 schools, community groups, families and individuals have signed up to be Plastic Free Community Ambassadors and 102 local businesses have signed up to be Plastic Free Pioneers as part of the work led by Environment Plymouth.
  • 800 volunteers took part in 160 litter picks with local community group Clean Our Patch, and collected 4,000 bags of litter.
  • 748 volunteers have taken part in beach cleans with Plymouth Beach Clean Volunteers and collected 261 bags of rubbish and 5,000 ‘nurdles’ (small plastic pellets used in a number of products).
  • CATERed who provide school meals for 67 of Plymouth’s secondary schools have removed 8,000 plastic straws, removed disposable plastic packaging and moved over to biodegradable.
  • A Sea Bin has been installed by Plymouth City Council at Queen Anne’s Battery as part of a pilot project to monitor plastic pollution with the University of Plymouth.
  • The Council has pledged to ban single use plastics on all its premises by September 2019.


Love your city - love your ocean

The Plymouth, Britain's Ocean City Plastics Taskforce is made up of representatives of a range of public, private and voluntary sector organisations across the city. The aims of the Taskforce are to tackle plastic pollution and reduce single use plastics, and encourage as many organisations and individuals across the city as possible to support the Plymouth, Britain's Ocean City Plan for Plastics.

A new city brand is being developed by the Taskforce encouraging residents to 'Love Your City' and 'Love Your Ocean', with a new Code of Conduct being launched soon, so watch this space. The Code of Conduct will encourage businesses or community groups to lead the way as Plastic Free Community Ambassadors or Business Pioneers, and to pledge to take the simple steps needed to support the Plan for Plastics, including:

  • AVOID contributing to the amount of plastic in Plymouth’s environment; leading by example in taking positive action….however small.
  • CONNECT to communities across the city; take responsibility for the plastics you use, exchange ideas and encourage others to do the same.
  • INNOVATE – think ‘plastic free’ and help us to introduce, pilot, design and develop eco-friendly alternatives.
  • RECYCLE – let’s manage what we’ve got more responsibly; find ways of reusing plastic as often as possible and in the most sustainable way. Challenge the reliance we’ve developed and recycle whenever you can

If you are interested in becoming an Ambassador or a Pioneer, or just want to find out more about getting involved, contact Environment Plymouth by email or complete the form by clicking the green button below.

Sign up



Thanks to all our #LitterHeroes for Plymouth's biggest ever spring clean!

Thanks to everyone who took part in this year’s Great British Spring Clean which ran from 22 March to 23 April 2019. In total almost 600 of you took part in either a litter pick or a beach clean and collected 1079 bags of litter, so a fantastic effort all round.

The Great British Spring Clean brings together individuals, community organisations, businesses and councils to make a difference to the environment on our doorstep and in 2018, nationally around 370,000 #LitterHeroes collected more than 630,000 bags of rubbish.

The litter picks and beach cleans were all organised by either Plymouth Beach Clean or Clean Our Patch and supported by the Council's own Street Services team. Among the many items of rubbish were crisp packets dating back as far as 1984.

Two Plymouth projects awarded national funding

Two Plymouth based pilot projects have been awarded national funding by Waitrose and Partners and Hubbub to tackle plastic pollution.

1. Plymouth Marine Laboratory who will be developing ‘bioreefs’ to try and filter out microplastics by exploring how the natural filter feeding of mussels works;

2. Blue Marine will work with the fishing fleet in Plymouth to test a new approach to stopping ‘ghost fishing gear’ lost at sea which causes significant damage to marine wildlife. They will work with the fishing community to attach beacons to fishing gear to prevent other boats snagging and enable them to track and retrieve gear that does get moved. 

Plymouth, Britains Ocean City Plastics Taskforce Update March 2019

The Plymouth, Britain's Ocean City Plastics Taskforce held their latest quarterly meeting on 19 March 2019.

Plastic free waterfront

On Friday 8 June 2018, it was announced that Plymouth was the first UK city to be accredited by the global charity Surfers Against Sewage with Plastic Free Communities status for its waterfront district. This makes Plymouth the first in the UK to achieve such status for a city district. The application for the Plastic Free Communities status was led by Environment Plymouth, with support from the Plymouth, Britain’s Ocean City Plastics Taskforce.

More than 70 business pioneers and 50 community ambassadors in Plymouth including local businesses, schools and community groups, supported the city’s bid by pledging to reduce the amount of single use plastics they consume.

Communities of all sizes are invited to apply to the charity Surfers Against Sewage for the Plastic Free Coastline status, but they must be able to demonstrate that both businesses and the community have already taken action to reduce the use of three single use plastic items such as straws, drink stirrers and disposable cups. Find out more on the Surfers Against Sewage website.


Sea bin trial and water refill points

Two exciting new projects to tackle plastic pollution were announced by Plymouth City Council's Cabinet on 5 March 2019.

A new ‘Sea Bin’ is to be trialled as part of the city’s ongoing commitment to tackle plastic pollution. Plymouth City Council is working
with Queen Anne's Battery and the University of Plymouth on the trial.

A Sea Bin is a floating rubbish bin that can capture annually 90,000 plastic bags, 35,700 disposable cups or 16,500 plastic bottles.  Find out more about the Sea Bin trial here.

In addition, it was announced that South West Water and Plymouth City Council are working together to review how tap water refill points could be made more freely available in public places in Plymouth, and the plan is to have three in place before the summer begins, with the locations to be determined.

A fourth drinking water fountain will also be installed as part of the Central Park improvement works at its new café.

Find out more about the plans for drinking water refill points in Plymouth here.

Plymouth aims to beat Europe deadline on banning single use plastics

Plymouth City Council has reacted to the recent European Parliament vote to ban single-use plastics by 2021 by saying that the city won’t be waiting that long to make further efforts to stop polluting the oceans with items such as tea stirrers, straws, plastic bags and water bottles.

The Council is working with partners on the Plymouth, Britain’s Ocean City Plastics Taskforce to implement a ban in the city by 2020, starting with a voluntary code of conduct.

In addition, all the Council’s buildings will go single-use plastic free by September 2019, and all events on Plymouth City Council land will be required to complete an Environmental Assessment to show how single-use plastic will be eliminated, replaced by alternatives, or at the very least, reduced to an absolute minimum.

Have your say on National Marine Park plans

You can have your say on our plans to make Plymouth the UK’s first National Marine Park.

Tell us what Plymouth Sound means to you.  

Thanks for taking part in the UK's biggest ever beach clean!

Thanks to all the fantastic Plymouth volunteers who took part in this year’s Great British Beach Clean weekend.

The Marine Conservation Society have published their report on the event, which took place in September, and revealed that a total of 15,000 volunteers took part across the UK – double the number that did so in 2017. In Plymouth there were eight different events across the weekend led by a range of organisations including Plymouth Beach Clean Volunteers, the National Marine Aquarium, and the Port of Plymouth Canoeing Association.

The Marine Conservation Society's report.

What happens to your plastics recycling in Plymouth?

What items can you recycle from around your home?



Week of Action on Plastics

A week of action on plastics took place from Friday 1 June to Friday 8 June 2018 including an International Marine Park Conference, the launch of our Plan for Plastics and a number of smaller events including litter picks, beach cleans and a paddle for plastics. You can watch this short video to see highlights from the week of action.


Date Event Venue Time Open to public?
Friday 1 June Teats Hill opening and beach clean
Find out more...
Teats Hill 11am to 2pm Yes
Saturday 2 June Beach clean at Bovisand
Find out more...
Bovisand 12 noon to 2pm Yes
Sunday 3 June Beach clean at Teats Hill
Find out more...
Teats Hill 12.30pm to 2.30pm Yes
Monday 4 June Paddle for plastics (Cattewater Gig Club)   6pm to 9pm No
Tuesday 5 June World Environment Day - Plymouth City Council using new Britain's Ocean City/One Cup reuseable cups for the first time Council House   Yes and Webcast
Tuesday 5 June Active Neighbourhoods litter pick - Ernesettle Creek
Find out more...
Ernesettle Scout Hut car park 11am Yes

Tuesday 5 June

Boat Poets workshop with Creative Arts School

  2pm to 4pm No
Tuesday 5 June Plymouth Youth Parliament hosted litter pick Hoe and Foreshore 5pm  
Wednesday 6 June National Marine Park Conference is taking place today in Plymouth with delegates from around the world     No
Wednesday 6 June Litter pick at Central Park with Central Park Team.
Meet at the clock tower 11am Yes
Wednesday 6 June Beach clean and litter pick on the Hoe and Foreshore led by our Strategic Planning and Infrastructure team Hoe and Foreshore 12-2pm Yes
Wednesday 6 June School Beach Clean and watersports with Mountbatten Activity Centre   All day No
Thursday 7 June School Beach Clean and watersports with Mountbatten Activity Centre   All day No
Thursday 7 June Litter pick with Active Neighbourhoods Team - Ernesettle Creek
Find out more...
Meet at Ernesettle scout hut car park 11am Yes
Friday 8 June Beach cleans with the National Marine Aquarium
Find out more...

Bovisand Beach

Mount Batten

Teats Hill

10am to 11.30am

12.30pm to 2pm

2.30pm to 3.30pm

Friday 8 June Marine Education event with Millfields inspired   4pm to 6pm No
Friday 8 June World Ocean Day celebration event at the Dome and launch of Plan for Plastics   5.30pm to 7.30pm Yes
Saturday 9 June

Saturday Beach Clean - meet at the botom of the stairs on Jennycliff Beach

Bring sturdy shoes, gloves and a bag or bucket to collect the rubbish

Jennycliff 11am Yes
Saturday 9 June

Saturday Beach Clean - meet by the roundabout above the Terrace Cafe/below the MBA/ near the Dome

Bring sturdy shoes, gloves and a bag or bucket to collect the rubbish

The Hoe 7pm Yes


The high profile week of activities was just the start of the city’s commitment to tackling the scourge of plastic waste and finding a more sustainable future. Keep up to date with all the latest developments on tackling plastic in Plymouth by searching #PlasticsPledgePlym on social media.

Plan For Plastics

The new Ocean City Plan For Plastics is being launched and will detail our broader commitment as a city to reducing single use plastics in the city. It is one of Plymouth City Council’s pledges, along with trialling the use of a new sea-bin to collect plastics and other solid materials directly from the sea. The Plan is being launched on Friday 8 June and will be available to download shortly.

The delivery of the Plan for Plastics will be driven, monitored and supported by the Britain’s Ocean City Plastics Task Force, with representatives from the public, private, voluntary and academic sectors.

 Plan for Plastics [PDF, 11MB]

What can I do?

There are lots of things you can do to help your local environment and help to tackle the scourge of single use plastics.

Buy a reuseable cup

You could buy one of the new One Plymouth / Britain’s Ocean City branded reuseable cups. These are available from a range of outlets in Plymouth or you can buy one on the One Plymouth website.

Take part in a litter pick

You could volunteer to do a litter pick in your local park or other green space Visit our Volunteer with nature page for more information.

Do a beach clean

The National Marine Aquarium organise a number of beach cleans throughout the year and you can find out more on the National Marine Aquarium website.

Recycle all you can

In Plymouth, most hard plastic items – such as milk bottles, plastic food punnets, and a lot of plastic packaging – can be recycled. Research by WRAP has found that more than 50 per cent of bathroom items –such as shampoo and shower gel bottles – are thrown in the bin when they could in fact be recycled. Find out all you can recycle on our What goes in each bin page.

Partners involved in the Britain’s Ocean City Plastics Taskforce

This is such an important issue that no single organisation can do this alone so partners from a range of public, private and voluntary sector organisations have joined together to have maximum impact through the Britain’s Ocean City Plastics Taskforce.

  • Plymouth City Council
  • Plymouth Waterfront Partnership
  • Destination Plymouth
  • Environment Plymouth
  • National Marine Aquarium
  • University of Plymouth
  • Plymouth Community Homes
  • Theatre Royal Plymouth
  • Redrok
  • Marine Biological Association
  • Babcock
  • Plymouth Marine Laboratory
  • Environment Agency