Lancaster University is working on an action plan with local businesses and the city council to tackle the growing problem of the city’s waste.
The team-up follows councillors' vote to support a motion to tackle the vast amount of plastic ending up in landfill and polluting the world’s oceans.
The scale of the problem became evident to the team during a visit to the Waste Transfer Centre in Middleton where they were greeted by a mountain of plastic - but just a fraction of the 28 tonnes of recyclables collected on that day alone.
The Chief Environment Officer for Lancaster City Council, Mark Davies, said: “Landfill across the UK is running out and is very costly. Reducing waste and finding more sustainable, environmentally friendly waste management solutions is an absolute priority – but the problem can’t be tackled by Councils alone.
“Lancaster University is also supporting us from a research perspective to help achieve our ambition of reducing waste in the district. However, a serious problem that needs to be tackled right now is the excessive use of plastic bottles and single use coffee cups, so we asked the University to help us create a taskforce to put some energy and innovation behind the problem.
"An initiative allowing a group of local business leaders to see and respond to the challenge was a first step in our collaborative efforts to solve the problem.
“Working closely with the Low Carbon Innovation Forum makes perfect sense. Participants are a diverse mix of business leaders from the local area – with some from local retail and coffee businesses that we really need to engage with to generate ideas for sustainable, practical solutions for the future.
"The over use of plastic and single use coffee cups is something that’s affecting the globe, not just Lancaster – but I hope that by working with business, academics, schools and local residents, Lancaster can find an innovative way forward.”
According to the national recycling campaign Recycle Now, around 35.8 million plastic bottles are used every day across the UK but only 19.8 million are recycled, resulting in 16 million plastic bottles ending up in waste every day.
Helen Wilkinson runs the Low Carbon Innovation Forum at Lancaster University. She said: “The Forum supports Lancashire SMEs to develop low carbon ideas and solutions for their own business whilst thinking about global problems.
"The visit to Lancaster City Council provided real food for thought and although we were all aware of the challenge that plastic poses, seeing mountains of it on your doorstep was a shock. The group will all meet again in a few weeks’ time to put forward their ideas for the Council and wider community.”