We live in a consumer society that has increasingly come to produce more than we collectively need. The result is that many of us frequently buy more than we require, leading to an excess that is often thrown away. Alongside this are two related factors. One is the level of packaging, sometimes multiple layers, surrounding much of what we buy. The other is that we are often induced to buy more than we need by promotional offers or sometimes simply being unable to buy smaller quantities. Further, we have moved away from being a ‘repair society’ towards a ‘throw-away society’, with consequent effects.

Apart from the sheer waste, much packaging is plastic, and of the 360 million metric tonnes of plastic produced annually (Statista 2020), it’s estimated that 40% is used once only (‘single-use plastic’). Plastic degrades extremely slowly, if at all, and can cause immense damage to rivers and marine life. Increasingly, and as a direct result, animals are also ingesting tiny particles of plastic and so in consequence are we in what we eat and through the air that we breathe.

The huge volume of all waste and packaging currently generated threatens to overwhelm our communal ability to dispose of it effectively and safely. How we limit and deal with waste is therefore something that affects us all and is also something each of us can proactively remedy by applying the principles of the ‘Circular Economy’.

5.1 Reduce waste and make informed purchasing decisions

OBJECTIVE: Increase awareness of how to create garden compost from ‘food waste’

Action: Information campaigns on how to re-use unavoidable ‘food waste’ in a beneficial way

– information programmes held at schools and public meetings supported by gardening/allotment groups.

OBJECTIVE: Increase awareness of the benefits of better planning to buy only what we need

Action: Encourage campaigns to monitor how much waste we produce and aim to reduce it by:

  • buying products with ‘plastic free’ packaging only.
  • weighing the packaging we put in the bin daily and aiming to reduce by 50%.
  • aiming to have a ‘plastic free home’ by joining and sharing ideas on Plastic-Free Thame FB and other relevant websites
  • using the local market and specialist shops to help buy the right quantities of products and avoiding prepackaged products.
  • using local farm shops to obtain fresh and locally sourced products.
  • cutting back on cooked food waste

Action: Only buy what we really need save money by seeing if you have something else that will do the same job.

5.2 Reduce waste by repair and better use of products

OBJECTIVE: Reduce the volume of ‘broken’ items thrown away by greater use of repairs

Action: Repair or repurpose broken items

  • encourage local focus groups to hold Saturday repair workshops for sewing, gadgets, wooden items etc in the Town Hall.
  • encourage the use of online sites to find ways to repair and reuse items e.g. Pinterest, Buzzfeed YouTube etc by advertising these on TGL FB page, TTC newsletter and on LWS website.
  • explore the setting up of a ‘Mend Shed’ group in Thame

OBJECTIVE: Encourage local businesses to replace all single-use plastics with reusable alternatives.

Action: Hold Business Breakfast briefings to share best practices for plastic waste reduction in local businesses

  • develop a questionnaire/help-sheet to share with the wider business community for plastic and other waste reduction practices.
  • open discussions with local supermarkets on how to minimise all product packaging

OBJECTIVE: Promote waste reduction by implementing the principles of the ‘Circular Economy’ into local businesses

Action: Launch awareness campaign to all local businesses on how to keep items in a perpetual loop of use and re-use

  • TTC Business Website to support local businesses with informative briefings and useful links.
  • Local businesses encouraged to share implementation and successes.

5.3 Recycling awareness

OBJECTIVE: Establish greater individual and community awareness of what and how to recycle and seek greater involvement of young people.

Action: Hold public awareness-raising events (e.g. outside major shops at a weekend) to stimulate involvement.

Action: Develop an easy way to capture local recycling data, e.g. by a short on-line questionnaire via TTC newsletter.

Action: Invite local school children to design the image for the on-line questionnaire.

Action: Seek closer involvement of Lord Williams’s School, possibly via a student questionnaire.

OBJECTIVE: Establish a good level of recycling across all local businesses

Action: Work with TTC councillors and the Thame Business Forum and interested parties to carry out a voluntary audit of local business recycling practices.

Action: Develop a simple questionnaire, based on the community version, for local businesses, including a means of following up.

Action: Raise awareness of Supply Chain Audits and the specialists who can assist with this.

Research and review country-wide recycling approaches
Connect with local groups in Oxfordshire to learn from their experiences

Action: Undertake desktop research to develop a database of best practice country-wide.

Action: Connect with national bodies, such as WRAP in Banbury, BioRegional and local county CAG groups.

Action: Liaise with 21st Century Thame and Plastic Free Thame to check alignment and offer support to relevant aspects of their initiatives.

5.4 Recycling efficiency and continuous improvements

OBJECTIVE: Build meaningful recycling involvement across the community

Action: Raise awareness of Recycling as a major public opportunity by:

  • Publishing questionnaire results to keep the community informed.
  • Holding a competition for ideas and ways to improve recycling rates.

OBJECTIVE: Encourage commercial recycling, household recycling, and school and community initiatives

Action: Implement greater spread and sharing of recycling information by:

  • Devising a Thame Town Council Recycling Award for best local business practice and community involvement.
  • Finding ways of publicly celebrating business benefits to the community.
  • Promoting home recycling such as food composting and wormeries

5.5 Sustaining recycling efficiency and building on success

OBJECTIVE: Use evidence from experience to develop long term plans

Action: Develop management, consultation, metrics and feedback structures to share success stories:

  • Use interim progress to set longerterm goals.
  • Develop metrics to monitor progress.
  • Form a ‘Recycling for Thame’ team of interested parties in the town, to meet, discuss, disseminate and respond.
  • Communications through, for example, involvement at community events (a float or stand at the Carnival?), public events – leafletting on weekends, music events etc.

5.6 Emerging technologies for waste management

OBJECTIVE: Keep an eye to the future for emerging technologies that could have application in Thame

Action: Track new energy developments, e.g. small-scale local generation from waste, to provide electricity, heat or hydrogen.

Action: Consider eligibility for Thame to be a trial location for new technologies; this may provide openings for funding through government innovation support and public grants.