Inspired by the BBC’s Blue Planet 2, a manager from a Kent-based leisure operator, Your Leisure, set out on a mission to purge ‘single-use’ plastics from its centres, replacing the plastic items with compostable alternatives. Several months into the project, over 12,000 plastic straws have been eliminated from its catering operation in a bid to lessen its impact on the environment, and the company is well on its way to also removing over 100,000 other single-use pieces of plastic.

Gavid Vickers, Indoor Leisure Manager, who founded the project stated: “Blue Planet 2 was a catalyst for change. Following the airing of the Plastic Pollution episode, I set out to remove all single-use plastics from the leisure operation; with plastic straws being the first to be banned across the sites. As a business, we have a ‘do it now’ ethos, not waiting any longer to make the changes needed today.”

However, the anti-plastic project didn’t stop there. Gavid used the straws as an initial step to launch a company-wide environmental mission ‘to zero’ throughout its leisure operations.

Warren Reeves, Your Leisure Operations Manager, said, “After Gavid’s successful purge on plastic straws, it was important for the business to get behind his charge and assess its impact on the environment. Buoyed by the positive feedback from our members and local communities, Gavid is now leading the way and has expanded the scope of the project to remove a target of 100,000 items of single-use plastic products from the operation and replace them with sustainable and environmentally friendly alternatives. The company provides leisure services in multiple sea-side towns, so it’s vital we do our best to protect the coast for future generations and wildlife.”

Going forward, Your Leisure’s focus is not only looking in at itself to improve its environmental footprint but also placing a focus on education. The Kent-based Leisure operator hopes to lead the way; educating staff and members of the local community on how to reduce their ecological footprint while enjoying life and having fun.

Statistics – Key Improvements:

The pilot launched at Hartsdown Leisure Centre has led to the following positive actions:

Environmental Action Impact
Plastic Straws Eliminated 12,500 plastic straws no longer in circulation.
Plastic take away cups for hot and cold drinks eliminated 40,000 single use plastic cups removed.
Polystyrene food container eliminated 6000 removed.  Replaced with reusable plates or compostable option
Plastic cutlery eliminated 10,000 plastic cutlery eliminated.
Cling film use eliminated Environmentally friendly options secured.
Elimination of plastic sauce sachets 24,000 gone.
A charge introduced for take away containers Reduced take away cup consumption by 50%.  Compostable used for the remaining.
Introduction of refillable cups X 50 sold
Introduction of internal rubbish sorting station to eliminate recycling contamination and drive recycling rates Removal of 13 bins 3500 black sack reduction Removal of 1300L general waste collection bin.
Introduction of food waste recycling service. 500L of food / compostables being recycled on a weekly basis. Create biofuel which create 90% less carbon than standard fossil fuels.
Introduction of Environmental Awareness Training 50 staff now trained in the importance of environmental awareness and reducing waste.
Introduction of key environmental messages to improve customer engagement 30 educational and awareness signs positioned around the centre.

Gavid Vickers, Indoor Leisure Manager, said: “What is wonderful is that whilst there was initial scepticism from the team due to some of the challenges this initially caused, there is now a real excitement about making our services greener and staff are coming up with new ideas all the time. The next stage in our programme is the elimination of plastic from our vending machine provision.”