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Chepstow Celebrates Plastic-Free Status With Plastic Banner

Steven Morris | The Guardian | June 13, 2018

Councillor calls for sign to be removed from battlements saying it is ‘beyond irony’.

A historic town in south Wales has been criticized for celebrating becoming a plastic-free community by hanging a banner made of plastic from a 13th-century gateway.

Chepstow fixed the large banner to the battlements of its town gate after being granted plastic-free status by the green charity Surfers Against Sewage.

Armand Watts, a councillor and former mayor, described the move as “beyond irony” and called for the banner to be taken down. “If this is non-biodegradable, then it clearly should be removed and replaced,” he said.

Members of Plastic-Free Chepstow have worked hard to achieve the status, encouraging businesses, local authorities, schools and community groups to divest themselves of single-use plastics. They were particularly proud of a campaign to make their street market plastic-free.

The group took to Facebook to explain its rationale for opting for a plastic rather than cloth banner.

“Yes, it is a plastic banner,” the group said. “We are not against all plastics as many are obviously very useful when they are designed to last for a long time and be reused over and over. Our group focuses on reducing single-use plastic consumption.

“These are the main items that are found in the sea, in beach cleanups and litter picks and include products like takeaway food containers, plastic cutlery, drinking straws, [plastic] wrap, takeaway coffee-cup lids and crisp wrappers.

“This large plastic banner product is build to last, to withstand the weather and be used for years to come at our events.”

The group said it did look for alternatives. “But, sadly, they would neither stand up to the weather nor be cost-effective. We also created a much smaller natural banner out of a secondhand piece of canvas which can be used on our stall when it’s dry.”

Surfers Against Sewage said Chepstow should be praised and claimed the criticisms of the banner missed the point.

“We think it’s a nonsense to focus on the banner,” a spokesperson said. “Our focus is on single-use plastic items that end up in rivers, waterways and the sea.

“The community in Chepstow has done amazing work reaching out to businesses, councils, community groups. They should be applauded. Plastic Free Communities is not about removing all plastics. Plastic is a very useful material. It’s a distraction to focus on the banner.”