SUEZ.scope™ first met with Surrey County Council's project team in 2018 to advise and support the development of their comprehensive single-use plastics strategy.
Plastic waste represents a difficult environmental challenge when it is not properly captured at end of life, and many single-use plastic items cannot currently be recycled in the UK. As a result, local authorities bear the majority of the cost of sending this material to landfill.
The need for a county strategy dedicated to tackling plastic waste has been supported by similar actions taken in 2018 by other organisations, such as Devon County Council, the European Union and the UK Government. Surrey is drawing on its locality to high profile stakeholders, including Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as well as the MP for Surrey Heath, and Mike Goodman, Cabinet Member for Environment and Waste.
Surrey County Council and the 11 districts and boroughs' collective vision is to help Surrey to become a single-use plastic free county and be one of the first English county partnerships to tackle the issue hoping to set a leading example. Initially, the team planned to start internally and control their single-use plastic consumption, before taking action at broader county-level by engaging with stakeholders. Surrey were also keen to take action ahead of the UK government's target of eliminating avoidable plastic waste by the end of 2042.
This challenging project required SUEZ.scope to adapt a process to the scale, scope and timeline of supporting a policy-led strategy development. Subsequently carrying out plastic waste audits at the offices of Spelthorne Borough Council, Waverley Borough Council and Surrey County Council in October 2018. Additionally, extensive desk-based research was reviewed and analysed internally at SUEZ by industry experts to form key messages and recommendations.
The local authorities involved formed a task-group dedicated to the single-use plastics strategy, with all stakeholders in charge of sustainability. Working directly with the highly committed members of the group was invaluable. To avoid duplicating efforts, SUEZ.scope worked together with the task-group on the recommendations and key messages drawn from the findings and collective work. These joint efforts enabled a strong sense of the priorities and vision for the local authorities and communities they represent in Surrey.
SUEZ.scope delivered on the strategy by forming extensive recommendations aiming to achieve strategy objectives, which required us to tailor the scope, timeline and stakeholder engagement level in line with local authority requirements.
The combined audit and research results highlighted where actions can be taken internally before rolling out the strategy at county level. This gave Surrey County Council and the 11 districts and boroughs opportunities to build their action plan for short, medium and long term timelines while engaging with a broad range of internal and external stakeholders for maximum impact. Working closely with the single-use plastics task group allowed us to integrate our input in the final document and maximise its impact.
SUEZ may further support Surrey County Council in delivering a communication campaign to promote the strategy to its stakeholders.
Many thanks to the SUEZ.scope™ team for the valuable contribution in pulling this together. It is very much appreciated by myself and my colleagues at Surrey County Council.
Richard ParkinsonEnvironment Delivery Group Manager | Surrey County Council