Plastic fears over proposal for Penrith water bottling plant

Date: Tuesday 29th January 2019

THE planning proposal for a new water bottling plant near Penrith (Herald, 29th December) is of great concern to local environmental group Penrith Action for Community Transition (Pact) in that it raises several issues including fundamental questions about the future sustainability of local industry.

If the intention is to bottle 25 million litres of water in single-use plastic bottles, this would be completely out of step with the national move away from plastic packaging, particularly after the BBC’s Blue Planet series brought widespread attention to the extensive damage being done to our oceans.

In response, many supermarkets have announced plans to reduce use of plastic in mainstream retail. However, given that over several generations we’ve all become accustomed to the convenience of single-use plastic, it’s apparent that the necessary changes to unpick complex production and supply infrastructure all take time to implement.

What is very clear is that we should certainly not be further adding to the scale of the problem by investing in new plastic-based plants. This is particularly true for a product as absurd as bottled water, given that — unlike many other countries — we are very fortunate to benefit from a supply of clean safe tap water available nationwide.

A greener, more sustainable future is not at odds with business development and job creation, quite the contrary.

It is very encouraging to see the opening of the Another Weigh zero waste shop in Penrith’s Angel Lane, offering a great new opportunity to purchase many commodities without packaging.

The local Refill scheme co-ordinated by Pact also has numerous members across central Penrith and beyond, so free tap water refills are now widely available, just by carrying a reusable bottle. There are similar schemes across Cumbria and nationwide.

Penrith Town Council should also be supported in its efforts to pursue “plastic free” or “plastic clever” status for the town, an initiative which would aim to unite authorities, businesses, communities and schools in a common commitment to finding smarter alternatives to single-use plastic.

Together these initiatives and more can be a great news story for the environment and for Eden, demonstrating a real environmental conscience by rejecting unnecessary and wasteful plastic packaging.

JOHN BODGER

(Chairman, Penrith Action for Community Transition)

By email