UK business briefs: Surrey urges ‘recycle over Christmas’, Sunderland starts first carton recycling centre, Welsh clean-up, FoE: say ‘yes’ to congestion charge, Prince Charles presents green award

Surrey County Council is urging all residents to reduce the amount of waste they create this Christmas through sustainable shopping and is encouraging the reuse and recycling of any waste that does arise over the festive season. DEFRA estimates that over three million tonnes of Christmas waste is created each year in the UK, including one billion cards, six million trees, 80,000 tonnes of old clothes and other textiles and 83 square kilometres of wrapping paper(enough to cover an area larger than Guernsey). Although not everything can be recycled, more rubbish could be put to better use, especially at Christmas. Marianne Cole, Waste Projects Officer, Surrey County Council said: "The waste produced in Surrey at Christmas significantly contributes to the 580,000 tonnes generated each year, and nearly 80% of that could be recycled. At Christmas, people tend to buy and waste more. By simply planning our meals and purchases we can all make a real difference to solving one of Surrey's biggest waste problems, whilst also saving ourselves money."

Sunderland Council has become the first English Local Authority to offer food and beverage carton recycling to its residents. Ten new collection containers were added to existing banks at recycling centres around the City on Friday 3 December 2004. The new scheme was launched by Fraser Kemp MP and is a collaboration between Sunderland Council and the Liquid Food and Carton Manufacturers Association (LFCMA) with local LFCMA member SIG Combibloc sponsoring the collection bins. Jim Alprovich, Head of Environmental Services for Sunderland Council said “We are delighted to be the first Local Authority in England to introduce ‘bring’ recycling banks for liquid food cartons.”

Volunteers carried out a clear-up operation at a litter hotspot in Cardiff today, helped by local environment quality minister Alun Michael, who joined volunteers from Cardiff Action for the Single Homeless, Fairbridge De Cymru and residents from the St Mellons and Wentlooge levels communities to clear litter at Wern Gethin Lane, St Mellons, in Cardiff. The operation aims to raise awareness of the problem of litter and how it can blight neighbourhoods. The event, part of Pride in our Communities, an on-going project run by Keep Wales Tidy, the Environment Agency and local authorities, comes just ahead of the expected publication of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill for which Alun Michael is the lead Minister. The Bill, announced in the Queens Speech, is expected to provide a raft of measures intended to help local authorities and other agencies make our communities cleaner, safer and greener.

Friends of the Earth has welcomed news that a date has now been set for Edinburgh’s referendum on congestion charging and urged the city’s residents to use their vote to say “yes”. Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Chief Executive, Duncan McLaren, said: “Congestion charging will cut pollution, protect public health and make Scotland’s capital more pleasant and prosperous than it is now. It works elsewhere and has been endorsed by a public inquiry. We therefore urge Edinburgh residents to back the proposals in February’s referendum.”

And finally, at a high-profile ceremony in Edinburgh, the community of Thurso was named the Environment Category winner of this year’s Calor Scottish Community of the Year awards. Surprise guest and presenter of the Awards was Prince Charles, a long-term supporter of environmental and community causes, who attended the ceremony along with hundreds of community representatives. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) had been a judging partner of the Awards for three years. SEPA’s Mark Wells leads the shortlisting, judging visits and assessment of the Environment Category, declaring Thurso a worthy winner he said: “Thurso demonstrated outstanding environmental work in a truly community-led style and residents are to be congratulated on all their hard work. So many activities led to us choosing them as Environment winner for 2004 but the real highlights for us were: improvements to coastal routes; developing and renovating footpaths, with improved access for disabled people; the promotion of composting, recycling and a re-use of household goods scheme. It’s great to see such a lot of environmental improvement and nearly all of it the result of community efforts.”

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