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Aylsham leads ban-the-bag revolution

PUBLISHED: 16:37 23 April 2008 | UPDATED: 08:56 13 July 2010

Aylsham is set to become the first plastic bag-free town in Norfolk.

More than 70 businesses - nearly every shop in the town - have signed up to a project to rid Aylsham of plastic bags.

Aylsham is set to become the first plastic bag-free town in Norfolk.

More than 70 businesses - nearly every shop in the town - have signed up to a project to rid Aylsham of plastic bags.

D-Day for the self-imposed target is May 3 and with just nine days togo, organisers are delighted with the response so far.

Several more businesses are expected to join the fray in the coming weeks, once they have had the chance to run the idea past head offices and company boards.

Ahead of the deadline, customers at several shops are already refusing to accept plastic bags, said one trader.

“I couldn't give away a free plastic bag now if I wanted to, customers all come armed with their shopping bags,” said Crawford White of GF White Butchers.

All three town butchers have signed up to the scheme, alongside a vet, charity shops, florists and cafés.

Supermarket Budgens, who openly admit that in the past they probably gave out as many plastic bags as the rest of the traders put together, have already moved to paper bags for their fruit and vegetables, which residents are encouraged to compost. They have also removed free plastic bags from the tills and further steps are on the way.

Jason Borthwick, one of the main protagonists of the movement, an Aylsham resident and an environmental businessman, said: “Who would have suspected that the historic market town of Aylsham was a hot bed of environmental activism?

“It's not quite at the point where people hiss if you walk down the street with a plastic bag, but there is a growing movement to resign the plastic bag to the history archives in Aylsham.”

A working group has been behind the push and involved input from Norfolk County Council, Broadland District Council, Aylsham Town Council, Aylsham Cittaslow, Aylsham Traders, the Aylsham Partnership and representatives from all over the town.

Staff at the county council have arranged for every household in the town to have the opportunity to receive a free shopping bag, which they can pick up from the market place on May 3 and 17.

The designs of the bag were drawn by children at the Bure Valley School in Aylsham.

There will also be plastic bag amnesty bins around the town centre, where plastic bags can be placed and then sent off to be recycled, thanks to Broadland District Council.

t For more information, including a full list of participating businesses, log on to www.aylshamplasticbagfree.com.

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