Schools urged to eliminate single-use plastics by 2022
Schools have been urged to eliminate single-use plastics by 2022, with carrier bags, straws and food containers set to be replaced with sustainable alternatives.
Education Secretary Damian Hinds acknowledged it was "not always easy" to make the shift but schools in England should lead by example.
He praised the effort made by Georgeham Primary School in Devon which has become the first in the UK to achieve single-use plastic free status.
Mr Hinds said: "In my first school visit as Education Secretary almost a year ago, the very first question I was asked by a pupil was what we can do to limit the damage of plastic on the environment.
"Reducing our use of plastic clearly is an important and timely issue which as captured the interest and the imagination of everyone in society.
"Plastic can harm our precious environment and be lethal to wildlife. The leadership shown by schools like Georgeham Primary in going single-use plastic free is an impressive example for us all - and I want work to support every school in the country following their lead by 2022.
"It's not always easy but we all have a role to play in driving out avoidable plastic waste, and, with more schools joining others and leading by example, we can help to leave our planet in a better state than we found it."
One of the changes made by Georgeham Primary was reaching an agreement with suppliers to change the packaging for milk for reception pupils, eliminating cartons and straws and instead filling washable beakers with milk from recyclable containers.
Mr Hinds has asked officials to increase communication with school suppliers about the plastic packaging of milk cartons and other day-to-day essentials.
Julian Thomas, headteacher at the school, said: "We are thrilled to hear the Education Secretary is calling on all schools to become single use plastic free by 2022.
"All of our pupils enthusiastically played their part in helping the school reduce excessive single use plastic consumption. I am confident children across the rest of the country would also welcome the challenge.
"By making relatively minor changes, such as replacing cling film for foil in the canteen we were able to significantly reduce our plastic use in the school. We're a small school but we think big and I'm very proud of everyone at Georgeham for what we've achieved."