Charity had the bottle to do the right thing
Published: 2nd Jan 2018Walking the walk, the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust took the plunge back in March and banned single-use plastic drinks bottles.
A major regional conservation charity is reviewing its first season without single-use plastic bottles.
The Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust - the charity that runs Paignton Zoo, Living Coasts in Torquay and Newquay Zoo in Cornwall – stopped selling single-use plastic drinks bottles in March. The move, taken to highlight the huge problem of waste plastics in our oceans, was a commercial as well as an ethical decision.
The Trust removed all plastic single-use drinks bottles from its shops and catering outlets at all three zoos.
Helen Warren, Director of Guest Services, said: “We made an ethical decision as an environmental charity, we have a responsibility to walk the walk as well as talk the talk and our move away from selling single use plastic bottles is certainly a policy we are proud of. We took the opportunity to review our range of drinks and have introduced some great new products into Paignton Zoo, Living Coasts and Newquay Zoo.
“We understand that the profit margin on plastic water bottles is high and that retailers may be reluctant to remove them from their product range, but we would urge them to consider all options and find alternative ways to make the money. This topic is too important to only consider the profit margin, we must all take responsibility for making the change and reducing our waste from single-use plastic.”
Trust spokesperson Phil Knowling said: “Buying water and soft drinks in plastic bottles is part of modern culture and a huge global enterprise. We knew we couldn’t change the way society uses and throws away plastics on our own – but we could set an example to help highlight the issue.
“Things have moved on since we took our stand – there’s now real momentum for returnable plastic bottles and a genuine drive to reduce unnecessary plastic. But we live in a world of plastic. What we really need is for science to find us new materials that we can use without harming the planet.
“All our zoos are near the sea – Living Coasts is right on the water and staff organise local beach cleans – so the issue of marine plastics is close to our hearts. Plastic is a huge problem – food packaging, shopping bags, waste material of all sorts. We’re under no illusions about the scale of the task – we simply decided to start with one manageable example of the issue - single-use plastic drinks bottles.”
Helen: “There are alternatives and the range is increasing. All of our outlets at Paignton Zoo, Living Coasts and Newquay Zoo now sell drinks in recyclable boxes, cans or glass bottles. Water in boxes seems odd, but you get used to it! You can also carry refillable, reusable water bottles – if they’re made of stainless steel, polyester or aluminium then they are far better than single-use plastic bottles. Each zoo will be selling branded reusable water bottles. We provide free water so they can be topped up.”
Phil Knowling: “Throwaway plastic bottles are convenient – but we pay a high price for that convenience. Plastics are poisoning our water and choking our wildlife.”