VIDEO: East Devon primary schools send message to Whitehall

  Posted: 12.02.20 at 13:19 by Jemima Moore

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In September 2018 children and staff at St Peter’s C of E Primary School began their mission to eliminate single-use plastics from across the school.

It was instantly evident that one of the largest sources of single-use plastic was coming from the government provided fruit and vegetable snack scheme.

The school’s Eco-Champions, led by Ms. Jemima Moore, wasted no time in writing to both the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) as well as directly to the snack suppliers.

Pupils let them know that, whilst they were very grateful for the fruit and vegetables for schools scheme, solutions to the wasteful packaging were needed.

Eco Champions asked that they find alternatives to sending fruit in so much plastic and stopped sending unrecyclable black plastic and plastic nets.

They also suggested that the snack could be delivered in reusable crates instead of cardboard boxes which are used just once, costing the school over £400 to have recycled each year.

The government is challenging schools to become single-use plastic-free by 2022 and education secretary, David Hinds, ‘has the long-term ambition that all schools will work with suppliers to make these small changes with a view to make a big difference in single-use plastic consumption’ (click the red button below).

Yet, every day this government-led scheme is sending huge amounts of single-use plastic to schools across the country.

Instead of leading the way on turning the tide on single-use plastic waste and finding solutions, the response to the pupils' letters simply gave excuses.

St Peter’s mission to become single-use plastic-free is going well with the school being awarded Surfers Against Sewage Plastic Free School status.

The stream of fruit snack waste continues, however, and a year and a half on there is no sign of action being taken by the government to reduce it.

The school’s headteacher, Mr Steve Hitchcock, reached out to other East Devon schools who were also being swamped in single-use plastic with an idea to visually represent the problem.

Schools collected fruit snack plastic waste to create a short film in the hope that it might have the impact that letters to the government have failed to.

The film will be sent to DEFRA and to the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme. It is hoped that it will be shared widely and raise awareness of the government's inaction where it should be leading the way.

St Peter’s also raised wider issues around the carbon footprint of their fruit snacks and asked DEFRA if the school may be allowed to source locally produced, seasonal fruit and vegetable snacks instead of using the national provider.

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