A Plastic-Free Market

9 July 2019

Green Party councillor, Jamie Osborn, is hoping that Norwich City Council will support market traders in Norwich to become the first permanent plastic-free market.

Councillor Osborn said:

“Having heard some inspirational stories from people around the world who are taking part in Plastic Free July, I wondered whether it would be possible for Norwich Market to become plastic-free.

“In September 2016, Norwich City Council passed a motion to ‘encourage traders on Norwich Market to sell re-usable containers and invite customers to bring their own, with the aim of phasing out SUP (single-use plastic) containers and cutlery on the Market Stalls by the end of 2017’. We are now halfway through 2019, so I’ve been talking to market traders, asking what encouragement they had been given and what support they needed in order to reduce their use of plastic, particularly plastic which is only used once, from cups and cutlery to the film that is wrapped around vegetables.

“So far, people who work there have been very keen to join in with the idea of making Norwich Market more sustainable. They would like their used cooking fat to be collected and old cardboard to be recycled. Some stalls have said they would be happy for customers to bring their own containers to put food in and others would encourage customers to bring their own bags to carry purchases home.”



Norwich City Council passed the following motion in September 2016, proposed and seconded by Green Councillors Martin Schmierer and Ben Price:


Councillor Schmierer moved and Councillor Price seconded, the motion as set out on the agenda.

RESOLVED, unanimously, that –

“According to recent research, 8 million metric tonnes of plastic waste ends up in the world’s oceans each year, endangering marine life. A resource where ??? understanding of the risks posed to human health by toxic chemicals present in plastic.

Six months after the introduction of the 5p bag charge, use of single-use plastic bags had already dropped by 85 percent while the TV programme Hugh’s War on Waste has raised public awareness of the problems of our throwaway culture. It is time for Norwich to take a lead on this issue.

Council RESOLVES, to ask cabinet to –

(1) develop a robust strategy to make Norwich City Council a ‘single-use – plastic–free’ authority by the end of 2017 and encourage the city’s institutions, businesses and citizens to adopt similar measures;

(2) end the sale and provision of single-use plastic (SUP) products such as bottles, cups, cutlery and drinking straws in council buildings;

(3) encourage traders on Norwich Market to sell re-usable containers and invite customers to bring their own, with the aim of phasing out SUP containers and cutlery on the Market Stalls by the end of 2017;

(4) investigate the possibility of requiring pop-up food and drink vendors at large council events to avoid SUPs as a condition of their contract;

(5) work with tenants and commercial properties owned by Norwich City Council to encourage the phasing out of SUP cups, bottles, cutlery and straws.”


In September 2017, Councillor Schmierer asked the cabinet member for safe city 

environment the following question:

“In September 2016, the council approved a motion on the issue of phasing out single-use plastics in Norwich. Interest in this issue continues to grow, with local businesses starting their own campaigns to get rid of plastic straws, and a Parliamentary select committee due to report on the possibility of a bottle deposit scheme. However, the council’s cabinet is yet to discuss the issue or agree any action, despite the council asking it to do so a year ago. Does the cabinet member

agree that further delay would risk the council being left behind on this issue, as well as allowing the plastic pollution crisis to go on worsening in spite of widespread agreement that urgent action is necessary?”

Councillor Maguire, cabinet member for safe city environment’s response:

“Thank you for the question: it is good to review Council motions and demonstrate progress on their implementation. In reviewing action on this motion, it is important to remember that the motion passed was “to ask cabinet to”. It is still within the remit of cabinet to decide what steps are taken. Having made that clear, I can say that our officers are gathering information so that an informed decision can be made. Such a decision will be based on sound financial reasoning which takes into account available resources and the actions already in place.

A review of the council’s polices showed that SUPs are not encouraged at events on council land. This has been the council’s position for a number of years. Looking at the suggestions within the motion you will be pleased to know that our events team already ask traders to use biodegradable plates, cups and cutlery. In addition bars need to take a deposit to encourage re-use and return. This is something that we will be enforcing on open spaces and the events team will be building this into contracts for 2018.

The annual beer festival at the Halls each October, is a great example of glass reuse. At the comedy festival in Chapelfield park, biodegradable containers are used due to safety. The result has been the prevention of tonnes of SUPs items going to landfill directly from council events In City Hall we only have one vending machine for staff which does contain SUPs. However, throughout the council we have drinking water fountains and plastic bottle recycling and since the motion we have found a suitable alternative for our committee room cups which will be introduced soon.

We also hope to encourage the city’s institutions, businesses and citizens to use less SUPs via a range of ongoing public engagement activities in the future. This will likely be part of the council’s next One Planet Norwich festival, working in partnership with both Anglian Water and Refill Norwich.

You will be pleased to know that a number of market stalls already use cutlery or packaging which has high environmental standards. Some stalls continue to re-use and wash traditional cutlery and mugs which is excellent to see. The council will continue to work with our traders to increase environmental standards and decrease waste to landfill. In the new strategy for the markets an objective “To provide a good and safe environment for visitors and increase opportunities for reducing waste and increasing recycling” will be achieved by “Actively working with traders to create a ‘green market’ where waste is minimal and recycling is the norm” Therefore, it may be possible to encourage tenants to phase out SUP – in the same way we might regarding residents – by say providing ‘promotional’ material alongside our correspondence with tenants.

So to conclude I disagree that we are being left behind on this issue. Our review has concluded that we are ahead of the game in regards to our events and we can quickly reduce SUP use within City Hall. In the wider community we will continue to build on the ongoing messages of reuse and recycling supporting any specific campaigns via our One Planet work.

Finally it would be likely that in the next edition of the Environmental Strategy the existing best practice and emerging policies identified will be reshaped to form a robust objective around the issue.”

In response to a further question from Councillor Schmierer, Councillor Maguire said that the council was already working with a range of partners to reduce the use of SUPs.


About Norwich Green Party

·           It has nine Norwich City Councillors (Labour 27, Lib-Dems 3), serving 3 of the 13 Norwich wards.

·           In the 2019 European election, the Green Party secured more votes than any other party in the Norwich City Council area.

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