RSPCA outlines efforts to go plastic-free

RSPCA has announced a host of measures introduced in efforts to become plastic-free across its business. 

Its first step is to replace all plastic bags with more environmentally-friendly paper ones across its charity shops, noting it is “one of the first” charities to move away from single-use plastic carrier bags.

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The charity said that during an average year, it bought 510,000 RSPCA branded plastic carrier bags, despite the fact they take hundreds of years to degrade, leaving behind microplastics that pollute the environment.

The new paper bags, which are made and printed in the UK, are made of 100% recycled paper and are fully recyclable, however.

RSPCA retail specialist, Jenny Eden, said: “We wanted to replace our existing plastic carrier bags with something easily recyclable, and being a charity that cares for wildlife, we wanted to make sure that no wild animal could be harmed by one of our bags if it was accidentally discarded.

“As a charity, we have received more than 21,600 reports of animals injured or caught in litter over the past five years. Plastic bags play a huge part in this which is why we wanted to play our part in helping animals, the environment and the planet by cutting down on single-use plastic.”

The charity is also cutting down on plastic through a host of additional measures. 

It is now using fully biodegradable disposable gloves at its national centres, hospitals and branches, for example, and is no longer sending out magazines in polythene wrapping, instead using a more environmentally friendly potato starch wrap.

In addition, it is also removing glitter and foil from its  FSC – certified Christmas cards and offering a plastic-free eco option for Christmas crackers from its online shop and catalogue.

Eden said: “The very principle of charity shops is to recycle preloved items for a good cause. Last year, we launched our Charity Shop Challenge which highlighted the impact fast fashion is having on the environment and encouraged people to shop at our RSPCA charity shops. 

“It’s estimated that each charity shop saves 29 tonnes of textiles from ending up in landfill each year and with over 300 RSPCA branch shops that is around 8,700 tonnes saved or the equivalent weight of over 1,200 African elephants.”

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