Plastic Free Royston

Single use plastics

Single-use plastic is of increasing concern to us all. Plastic in our seas leads to animals ingesting it, which can cause malnourishment and death. It is also ugly.

For our initial project to improve the environment of Royston and beyond, we have joined a national initiative from Surfers Against Sewage to raise awareness of the amount of single-use plastic in our lives and environments. The scheme aims to reduce single-use plastic by replacing with reusable alternatives or avoiding altogether.

Transition Town Letchworth recently followed the scheme,which resulted in their certification as a Plastic-Free town. Many towns across the country are signing up as public understanding of the issues increases.

non recyclable plastic bag

This doesn’t mean the entire town must be plastic free but there are relatively easy targets for businesses, schools and community groups, and the local council to reduce their reliance on single-use plastics.

If every local business or group were to give up just one piece of single use plastic this would make Royston and the world a better place!

For more information click this logo.

plastic free royston

Helping Royston towards plastic free status

We are keen that in Royston we do all we can to help reduce the plastic problem and would love to see Royston achieve the ‘plastic free’ status offered by SAS. This does not mean 100% plastic free - which would not be possible anytime soon - but we can make big reductions in the amount that we consume. Letchworth and many other towns nationwide and often much larger than ours, have already achieved Plastic Free status and we hope to make Royston a Plastic Free community by the end of 2021.

Please can you take a few moments to answer this questionnaire and share with us your opinions and ideas on how we can reduce the use of plastics locally?

Royston Town Council

The group is delighted to have received an endorsement from the Town Council following the unanimous vote to  support our Plastic Free Royston initiative.

Councillor Carol Stanier explained that although the Town Council already avoided the use of single-use plastic, committing to support the initiative would send a strong signal to town’s businesses and residents, allowing the eventual certification of the town as a Plastic Free Community under the Surfers Against Sewage scheme.

Royston businesses awarded plastic free status


The Royston Environmental Group is pleased to announce that we have been able to award Plastic Free Status to some of our local businesses. 

To achieve this, each business was asked to nominate a number of everyday items they normally use which would no longer be plastic based. The list from each business was then submited to the PlasticFree campaign for certification.

Plastic free champions

We would love to see your local business achieving this status and getting your own award. You can nominate your business by completing the questionnaire and start your journey to Plastic Free Status today.

Plastic Free Questionnaire

Plastic Free Champion Business Awards


Three business in Royston have made a commitment to reduce or eliminate their reliance on single use plastics.

Emma Nankivell, manager at Kooky Nohmad in the High Street and Kim Fletcher, who owns Hush Skin and Beauty and the Heart to Earth Refill outlet, both in Kneesworth Street, have become the first to receive their award certificates and plaques which let everyone know they are

Plastic Free Champions.

Christmas and the environment

new year-3974099_1920

Christmas trees

A real or artificial tree, that is the question

One of the best things about the festive season is brightening up our homes with decorations, the centre piece of which is the Chrsitmas tree.

There are a lot of choices available from the real thing to some very convincing artificial trees. The plastic in these artificial trees can take many years to breakdown after they are no longer required and go to land fill.

So it makes sence to buy the real thing, right? But did you know that the Carbon Trust estimates that each 6 foot tree can release up to 16 kg of carbon dioxide when it decomposes. Of the 8 million real trees purchased each year, 7 million are used just once and then disposed of. That can release an astounding total of 112,000 tonnes of green house gasses. 

Tree rentals

However, there is an alternative to buying a new tree each year. You can rent a live tree in a pot for the Christmas season and return it for replanting. It can then be used again for a further 6 years or more. All you have to remember is to water it while it’s in your home to help it stay fresh.

Search the internet for Christmas tree rental and see if there is a place near to you.

Wrapping paper

Most gift wrapping paper is now made with a plastic coating or are made from a plastic foil. Much of it is also likely to have sticky tape attached which is non-recyclable.

Unfortunately, this cannot be recycled by the local authority in the Royston area and will have to go into the purple bin.

Christmas cards

Like the wrapping paper these often have plastic coatings or have sparkly decoration on them. Each of these make it impossible to recycle them which means they would have to go into the purple bin with the wrapping paper.

You could, of course, be a little creative and reuse both the paper and the cards to make gift tags for next year’s presents.

What goes in which bin?

NHDC have provided information on their website which covers bins for flats and houses. Follow this link and search for “What goes in my bins”.

North Herts District Council

Eliminating single-use plastics

The group is keen to see Royston emiminate the avoidable use of single-use plastics. We know that this is not an easy thing to achieve, but every journey starts with the first step.

What can I do ?

Every one of us can help make a difference. Some things are small and easy to achieve, others may need a larger commitment.

making face covering

 Refill shops

An excellent way of reducing plastics in the environment is by refilling containers you already have. While still small in number, there are a growing number of outlets where you can do this.

The type of goods which can be bought through these is growing all the time, from food to toiletries and household cleaning products.

Heart to Earth - Royston’s refill shop

A welcome addition to Royston’s retail outlets, Heart to Earth offers products which are plastic free and environmentally friendly. You can visit the shop and bring a container with you although you can take your purchases away in paper bags, if necessary.

Shop in person at 35 Kneesworth Street, Royston, SG8 5AB or online via -

Heart to Earth website

Refill App

Here’s an app that can help you find Refill Stations near to you, whereever you happen to be. It’s been developed by the City to Sea campaign and is available from the App Store and Google Play.

Please note that neither Royston Environmental Group or Heart to Earth have any connection to the City to Sea campaign and are not responsible for the development of this app. No endorsement is offered. The links above are provided only for your convenience. 

plastic drink bottle

 Face coverings

There are some important reasons why some articles have to be disposable as we deal with the dangers posed by Covid-19. However, it is estimated that globally 194 billion dispoasable face covering and gloves are used and disposed of each month. 

Medical grade face covering used by emergency service staff and other key workers are an example. But many face coverings are not made to this standard and are being discarded in large numbers on our streets. Making or buying resuable fabric face coverings is a viable alternative to these lower grade, single use masks. 

You can find guidance on making your own face coverings on the government’s web site.

Making a face covering
plastic drink bottle

 Plastic drinks bottles and cups

It’s easy to pick up bottles of water in the shops. They make carrying it around easy and can simply be thrown away when empty.

And that’s the problem! Even though they are recyclable, their portability can make that less easy to do, especially if there are no obvious recycling bins where you’re going.

Reusable bottles now come in all shapes and sizes and are commonly available in the high street. 

disposable hot drink cup

 Disposable coffee cups

Nearly everyone likes a good cup of coffee. The variety available is quite astonishing. Many high street coffee shops will serve your favourite hot drink in disposable cups.

Most of these contain an element of plastic, simply to contain the liquid, and most get thrown away after they’ve been used.

Reusable, insulated cups and mugs are now a good alternative, especially if they are sealable to keep hot drinks hot and safe to carry around.

peached in plastic box

 Plastic wrapped foods

Many national food retailers supply food in plastic wrapping. Some are attempting to reduce this but it is simply too convenient for them.

Most local food outlets, such as markets, supply goods as you request them rather than pre-packed. Where they do use packaging it is also more likely to be environmentally friendly.

cotton buds

 Cosmetic products

There are some things which we all need, in the words of one famous series of adverts, for our “important little places”. Many, such as cotton buds, have become less dependednt on plastic in their manufacture.

Look for suppliers of those things which you just can’t live without to see if there are any making them without using plastics.

refill shop-3735170

 Reusable carrier bags

It is true that charging for plastic carrier bags at larger retail outlets has significantly reduced their use. 

But there are still too many in circulation. And although bio-degradable plastic bags breakdown more quickly, they are still plastic.

You can help reduce their numbers further by taking your own  bags with you when you go shopping. Canvas or cotton bags are a good reusable, washable alternative.


Plastic Free Royston aims to transition the town to a single-use plastic free environment as soon as possible. 

But in the meantime, what can you do to recycle plastics whose use is unavoidable? Many plastic containers have a symbol which may help you decide whether an item can easily be recycled. Here’s a quick guide.

reuse 2295677_1920

Plastic Free Royston aims to transition the town to a single-use plastic free environment as soon as possible. 

But in the meantime, what can you do to recycle plastics whose use is unavoidable? Many plastic containers have a symbol which may help you decide whether an item can easily be recycled. Here’s a quick guide.

recycle logo multicoloured
recycle symbol PET 1
Used in

Food and drink packaging

Recycled at

Curb-side collection

Same Height Control
recycle symbol HDPE 2
Used in

Food and drink packaging

Recycled at

Curb-side collection

recycle symbol LDPE 4
Used in

Plastic carrier bags

Recycled at

Major retail outlets


Recycling the non-recyclable


TerraCycle have bins in Royston which accept items which are more difficult to recycle.

Find out about TerraCycle
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