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College takes a pass on plastic

11/06/2018

Learners at a Coleg y Cymoedd are being urged to make a pass on plastic in a bid to improve the environment and help lead the way in reducing plastic pollution.

Coleg y Cymoedd is hosting plastic-free Fridays at two of its campuses in Ystrad Mynach and Nantgarw, following increased awareness about the damaging effects that discarded items have on oceans and wildlife, as well as human health and livelihoods.

Learners at the campuses are being encouraged to switch from disposable water bottles to re-usable alternatives, which are being offered out for free at both campuses every Friday.

Hundreds of re-fillable bottles have already been handed out to tutors and learners throughout the college, while a designated stall has also been set up to raise awareness about the dangers of single use plastics and inspire others to make changes themselves, both at the college and in their personal lives.

The initiative is part of a campus-wide effort at both locations to phase out plastic use, with plans for further environmentally-friendly measures already on the horizon. Both campuses are hoping to replace plastic straws with recyclable paper ones at their canteens and cafés, as well as discourage the use of takeaway coffee cups with the introduction of reusable mugs.

Alison Roberts, Campus Director at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Ystrad Mynach campus said: “Plastic waste is hugely damaging to the environment and is destroying the lives of individuals living in developing countries. The problem is that, while people see images of plastic waste on TV, there is a disconnect between this and their actions. We wanted to do our bit to help as a college and felt that providing reusable bottles was a good starting point for our ambitious plans.

“It was important to us what we engage learners and staff in change and help them understand the impact their choices have.  Speaking with them about plastic waste and its effects and showing this through real-life images, such as those of fishermen in Indonesia struggling to work in a sea full of plastic, is definitely helping to hit home the gravity of the situation.

The scheme is just the latest eco-friendly measure implemented at the college as part of its commitment to the green agenda. Other initiatives include the installation of apiaries and green rooves on campus, food waste reduction programmes across its catering and hospitality services, as well as a longstanding commitment to sustainable building practices at each of its sites. The college was also awarded the ‘Platinum Level’ at the Wales Travel Plan awards for its work to encourage staff and learners to use alternative transport solutions such as cycling, public transport and car sharing.

Alison added: “The response we have received has been immensely positive and it’s been really heart-warming to see so many people on campus bringing in their reusable bottles every day. The conversations we are having with learners has demonstrated that people are very passionate about making a difference, no matter how small, and we are looking forward to implementing other changes over the years to come.”

The reusable bottle scheme at Nantgarw and Ystrad Mynach will continue into the end of the summer term and is set to return to all campuses again in September and will enable learners and staff to make a small contribution towards a reusable bottle.  

Initially piloted across two campuses, the college hopes to expand the scheme to its other campuses in Aberdare and Rhondda.

College takes a pass on plastic

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