Penzance’s Plastic Free Champion Awards are back

Never mind the BAFTAs, the hottest awards night is right here in Penzance.

It’s been five years since our last Plastic Free Penzance awards. Five years!

A lot happened in that time – including a host of amazing work in the town to reduce single use plastic at source. Our local businesses are at the forefront of that and it’s time to celebrate them again.

Celebrating our business champions 

The Plastic Free Champion Awards are our way of recognising the businesses in Penzance who actively contribute to the fight against single-use plastic. It’s a night to honour and celebrate those who have embraced their sustainability journey and made a significant impact in reducing single use plastic.

We also have some special awards to honour those businesses that have gone above and beyond to put people, place and planet first, leading the change to a sustainable Penzance. 

New Sustainable PZ Business Hub Launch 

As part of the event, we are thrilled to be launching the Sustainable PZ Business Hub. Co-created by local businesses as part of Sustainable PZ’s ‘Together for our Planet’ initiative, the hub will support and empower businesses in Penzance to continue their plastic-free journey, and adopt more sustainable practices across other areas.

By joining forces, we aim to create a greener and more resilient future for our town. Businesses can sign up on the night, giving them access to a host of free resources, workshops and networking to help them on their journey.  

Eat, drink and dance 

The awards presentation will start at 7pm to 9pm. There will be food from Whole Again Communities plus a bar for drinks and refreshments thanks to The Exchange team. From from 9pm Groovelounge take to the decks, with dancing til late.

Want to come along?  

If you are a business we’ll have been in touch with your VIP invite. Keep an eye out on your inbox/social media and drop us a line to RSVP. If you’re not a business you can still come and celebrate. Tickets are free – just book your spot on Eventbrite here: Plastic Free Champion Awards 2024 

We can’t wait to celebrate with you. Here’s some pictures from our last awards night to get you in the mood …  

Join us at the Plastic Free Champion Awards at the Exchange, Princes Street, Penzance on Friday 22nd March from 7 to 11.30pm and let’s celebrate the businesses shaping a plastic-free future, and together, let’s pave the way for a greener and more sustainable Penzance. 

Book your free tickets now on Eventbrite: Plastic Free Champion Awards 2024 

We’re Swimming in Plastic

Surfers Against Sewage Release ‘Swimming in Plastic’ video to call on the UK Government for action on DRS

  • Surfers Against Sewage have released a video calling on the UK government to end delays to the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) as part of their Swimming in Plastic campaign.
  • The video, featuring Penzance synchro group Out of Sink, highlights the plastic pollution problem, but also a solution to the overproduction and mass consumption of plastic: an all-in DRS.
  • An all-in DRS would stop 8 billion containers from entering the environment every year.
  • The UK government is continuing to delay plans of implementing the long- awaited scheme, which was first announced by ministers in 2018.
  • The Swimming in Plastic campaign followed the charity’s 2023 Brand Audit Report launch in Penzance, which saw the Jubilee Pool filled with a day’s worth of plastic water bottles used by the town.
  • Plastic Free Penzance is now amongst hundreds of SAS communities across the UK calling on the government to take action.


An all-in Deposit Return Scheme (DRS), a scheme including metal, plastic and glass containers, offers the UK an alternative to choking our planet with plastic. In Norway, a Deposit Return Scheme captures 97% of the country’s single-use bottles. And SAS estimates that in the UK a DRS would capture at least 55% of the plastic packaging flowing into the ocean produced by the top polluting companies.

Over the past 7 years, governments across the UK have been promising to deliver a DRS. However, after years of delay from government and strong push back from producers and retailers, the future of the scheme becomes increasingly uncertain.

An all-in DRS would ensure producers pay for the pollution they create and take pollution from our streets, beaches and ocean. However, it has become a political tug-of-war across the UK. Despite over 40 countries across the world delivering similar schemes with great success, the UK government continue to delay

Izzy Ross, Campaigns Manager at Surfers Against Sewage, added: ” A deposit return scheme is one of the most effective ways to reduce the plastic pollution the scourges the ocean. DRS schemes are highly successful in other countries. There’s no reason that this wouldn’t be the case in the UK. Unfortunately, the government continues to stall on plans to implement a DRS. This dither and delay is condemning our ocean, beaches and rivers to a further 8bn extra pieces of plastic a year, as plastic gradually chokes these fragile ecosystems to death.”

At the end of 2022 SAS released its national action plan to end plastic pollution, outlining the following demands:

  1. Legislation that ends the production and consumption of non-essential single use and polluting plastics.
  2. Legislation that ensures effective resource use and waste
  3. Business models that are focused on reduction and
  4. Cultural change across

Rachel Yates, Community Lead at Plastic Free Penzance, said: ” We see the effects of plastic packaging pollution every day in Penzance. On the beaches, in green spaces and on our streets. We can take action as a community to clean up and stop single use at source through our work with businesses, schools, organisations and Penzance Council. But we also need system change at a UK and government level. We need the government to step up to end plastic pollution, now.”

For press enquiries and images, please contact [email protected] or call 01872 553 001


About Surfers Against Sewage

Surfers Against Sewage is a national ocean conservation and campaigning charity that inspires, unites and empowers communities to take action to protect oceans, beaches, waves and wildlife.


About Plastic Free Communities

Plastic Free Communities exist to free where we live from single-use. They bring people together on a journey to tackle avoidable single-use plastic, from the beach and green spaces all the way back to the businesses and brands who create it. It’s not about removing all plastic from our lives. It’s about kicking our addiction to throwaway single-use plastic, and changing the system that produces it. Join up and free where you live from single-use, one plastic bottle at a time.


Notes to Editors

Swimming in Plastic video: Swimming In Plastic – YouTube

Swimming in Plastic campaign: We’re “Swimming in Plastic” – Surfers Against Sewage (

2023 Brand Audit Report: Brand Audit Report (2023) – Surfers Against Sewage (

Golowan – Our Town, Our Planet

Penzance’s biggest day of celebration is almost back – and we can’t wait. But how do we have fun and make sure we’re still looking after the environment around us?

If you’ve been to Golowan Festival before, you may remember organisers teamed up with Plastic Free Penzance back in 2018 to introduce a refill cup scheme. And it was a total success.

We introduced refill cups at all the main venues as well as the water refill point for the parade, to get rid of plastic water bottles. It was our first year, balloon sellers weren’t happy and a couple of venues decided to hold off on the reuse cups … but with just those two refill actions we saw a positive start in the reduction in single-use plastic. A thousand items, if we look at plastic water bottles alone.

And despite those who didn’t take part, we were thrilled to see so many venues putting one step forward for the planet, reducing the amount of single-use plastic being used across the festival.

In 2019, we upped the game – and so did the town. More venues got involved in the refill cup scheme, and the town’s Plastic Free Events Charter was sent to all traders and contractors.

By the end, 33,000 less single-use throwaway cups were used over the weekend! Pretty much every food stall used cardboard boxes, paper bags and sold canned drinks rather than plastic bottles. The only balloons on sale were from the street vendors (who can just rock up) and plastic ‘tat’ on stalls was significantly down. The fireworks were plastic free, too.

We also upped waste management, with more and bigger recycling bins (and a huge shout-out to our volunteer Prom Plastic Pick team did a great job of picking up any stray rubbish making its way to the ocean).

The result? A visible difference in plastic pollution and rubbish on the streets. We couldn’t have been more grateful to everyone


After a successful return event in 2022 (Golowan saw a two-year break, thanks to Covid), we’re excited to be continuing our journey with the Golowan organisers to make this festival more eco-friendly than ever before.


So, what about this year?


This year, we’re asking you to take things one step further – by bringing back your cups from last year, instead of buying them all over again.

In fact, it doesn’t even have to be your Golowan cup; any festival cup will do. By bringing cups you’ve already purchased before, there will be even less need to buy plastic when you’re celebrating and dancing with your friends, or enjoying the parades.

After all, for us, it’s all about reusing what we’ve already got, not create something new. Which is why, each year, the Golowan team plans to order less refill cups for venues, until the habit is to bring them back is bedded in (but, don’t worry, they will still be available if you need them)

We’re also doing more work around waste management in terms of setting up food waste collections and upping glass and can recycling as people swap to those alternatives. Through our mothership Sustainable PZ we are encouraging wider actions such as sustainable travel and letting the public and vendors know where eco impact could be reduced further

Last but not least we will have our epic volunteer teams out on the ground on the Prom, the dock and doing sweeps of Battery Rocks throughout the festival to catch any stray plastic and rubbish making its way to the sea. Watch out for us and say hi.

Got any ideas on ways you think we could reduce the eco-impact of Golowan? Drop our team a line and start making a difference!

We hope you all have a fantastic Golowan, and we’ll see you on the other side…

We need a whole lotta bottle!

Join our Community Bottle Collection

We’re collecting as many plastic bottles as we can for a big community event in PZ with Surfers Against Sewage this summer. We want to get hold of as many used bottles as we can – and you can help!
1. Keep any plastic bottles of drinks and milk you have used
2. Wash them well in soapy water, put the lids back on and take the label off
3. When you have a bin liner full drop it off at our collection points
4. if your street gets a flyer, volunteers will come collect from you on a set day or let you know where your street collection point is
Right now we are collecting at:
  • PackSwap every Sat 10.30-12
  • Local schools – you’ll get info home soon if your school is taking part
  • Golowan Festival Weekend – look out for us!
  • Sessions Surf & Skate
  • Penwith College
  • Penzance Leisure Centre
  • Sennen Surf Centre
  • The Hypatia Trust
  • Solomon Browne Memorial Hall
  • Morrab Rd, The Prom, Bay View Terrace and Alexander Road … we’ll come to you on 1st July. Just leave your bags of bottles by the gate
  • Street collections by volunteers – who will flyer you to let you know where to drop off or when they’re collecting
Thanks to all the businesses and venues supporting already by having back room collection points for stock and staff contributions, including Jordan’s Cafe, The Hoxton Special, Pure Nuff Stuff, Whitsand Bay, The Honeypot, Waves cafe, Lavenders Deli, The Cabin, Peppercorn and Marazion Fudge Shop.
And to all the volunteers doing street collections – including the brilliant Out of Sink who will join us on 1st July to collect from Morrab Road, The prom, Alexander Road and Bay View Terrace.
If your business or venue wants to help too please message 💙
Thank you!




The individual actions on plastic that really do add up

It’s that time of year again where lots of us re-assess things. We’re not for the whole ‘New Year/New Me’ thing. But we are for those moments where we look at our lives and think about the positive changes we’d like to make. For our health, mind, pockets and the planet.

Single Use Plastic Pollution is endemic. It’s also a massive contributor to climate crisis. And it is poisoning the land, ocean and everything that lives here. It’s also something we DO have the power to tackle. Yes we need system change and the producers need to get a conscience. But we can also refuse to buy single use plastic. Which saves us money and is also healthier too,  a few other resolution hits in there if you’re making them 🙂

You can get an individual action plan to cut single use plastic here … and coming up are our top three suggestions:


38.5 million plastic drinks bottles are bought in the UK every day. Half end up polluting the environment. The other half are recycled, using up precious energy and resources. And it costs a fortune when you add up how much is spent on all those bottles of water and fizzy drinks.

In another breath, seven million disposable coffee cups are used each day in the UK. 99% end up polluting the environment in one way or another. ‘Compostable’ ‘ bio-degradable’ cups are just as bad. Plus they perpetuate single-use, throwaway culture. What can we do?

Top Tip One: Refuse single use bottles and never pay for water again. Tap water is free and perfectly safe to drink. There are an abundance of refillable bottles available these days, with some costing  as little as £2. With a standard 500ml bottle of water costing around 50p, you’ll have paid for your reusable within just four uses.

If you’re a regular at your local cafe, then taking a reusable cup can get up to 50p off a hot drink every time. If you buy coffee five days a week, that saves £15 a month and almost £170 a year. Definitely worth the purchase. Check out our Plastic Free Champion cafe’s here


Loose Fruit and Veg

Starting with another scary stat. 112,000 pieces of plastic packaging leave UK supermarkets every MINUTE in the UK. The first step to reducing it is opting for loose fruit and veg, Stores are upping what’s on offer loose – but it’s still not brilliant. Solve this by starting to get fruit and veg from the local grocer or farm stall/shop instead.

‘But that’s really expensive’ we heard someone say? It actually isn’t. Supermarkets have done a BRILLIANT job of convincing us they’re easier and cheaper. Having said that, we’re also realistic. We are busy working people with families, bills and ‘real’ life stuff to deal with too. The first step is to check out local grocers and farm stalls and work out how to build a weekly visit into your routine. Then do it.

This action has a few ripple effects too. It can lower food miles, supports local businesses, we’re more likely to eat seasonally and we also get more for our money on meal prep, as it kick-starts more cooking from scratch using quality home-grown produce

Veg box schemes are fab too. This option needs a shift in how we organise food prep and budget, but it’s doable and will mean we’re eating more in line with what’s actually available locally.

Take a Packed Lunch 

Have you noticed how much cash you saved during Covid by not buying lunch on the go each day? It may save a few minutes on a morning but the (very expensive) habit of buying lunch in single use packaging everyday has a huge impact on the environment.

Take your average meal deal of £3 a day, that’s a saving of £60 a month already … and if you’re throwing weekend food on the go into the mix you can save over a thousand pound a year for the sake of grabbing a reuseable tin or box and using tupperware to pack your own. YOu could go total hipster and put it in a glass jar.

However you choose to contain your lunch, it’s a great way to avoid food waste too, by boxing up leftovers to have for lunch the next day. We obviously encourage treats days. Make sure to support our local plastic free champion cafes and outlets for the Friday splurge, or whenever you fancy a takeout, who will make sure your lunch is packed responsibly.

Just three things can save a HUGE amount of plastic, money and also positively impact our health. You can get more ideas here and if you want to look at wider, achievable eco-changes for 2023, check out this blog from Sustainable PZ.

Remember to share your own tips and journey on our social platforms so we can all find ways that work together. Just hop on to our Facebook or Insta accounts and comment.

Five things you can do to cut plastic this Platinum Jubilee

It’s so good to be able to plan events and celebrations with each other again. With that comes another resurgence of single use plastic. So, this Platinum Jubilee we’re sharing top tips on how to cut waste and plastic at any parties you or your community have got planned.

First up, did you know Penzance has an Event Charter? It sets out some minimum actions for any events being organised in the town. You can get a copy here

Also take a look at the Sustainable PZ Events guide and feel free to download a copy of the Events Guide to send to people coming to your event or put up locally so everyone can see it.

Here are some more ideas and thoughts:


Take a refill coffee or festival cup out with you and ask for your brew or beer to be put in that, rather than a disposable cup. Refill is perfectly safe and while vendors have always had the right to refuse, the more of us who ask, the more it’ll be become normal practice


Don’t buy anything in single-use plastic where you can. If you’re organising a get-together at home or in the street, get everyone to bring a plate. Works out cheaper than loads of plastic wrapped, supermarket-bought party and picnic food too.


Take a refill water bottle to keep your H2O topped up and use reuse cutlery, tubs and plates for food. Works for festivals … but also think back to Silver Jubilee parties and proper cutlery, plates and cups laid out on tables in the streets. People can bring their own and take them home again after to wash.


Reducing and reuse means less waste to get rid of. Provide adequate bins and separate out anything that’s left so a much is recycled as possible at your events. You can even collect compostable food waste for local gardeners, allotments or growing projects. If you’re out and about and there are no bins, take rubbish back with you.


How can you do things differently? What will you do with leftover food? Growing Links is a fabulous local CIC providing healthy meals to the most vulnerable people and families in Penzance. Could you take it there? Can you get food and drink from local businesses rather than the supermarkets to cut plastic? One simple swap: Bunting for Balloons!

Get more tips and ideas in our Life Hacks section on events here

Any action, small or large, adds up. We hope there are some ideas in here you feel you can put into place … and we hope you have a great time.



Show the Love to Penzance with a Beach Clean

This February, we’re celebrating the incredible part of the country we live in, as well as supporting the people who are working hard to keep it that way.

Plastic Free Penzance is gathering the troops for a beach clean on Sunday 13th February, as part of the ‘Show the Love’ campaign. The movement, driven by the Climate Coalition, takes place every year in February and aims to highlight how people from all walks of life are helping to tackle climate change together, however big or small.

Since 2015, ‘Show the Love’ has inspired the UK to use the power of green hearts to ask politicians to help tackle the climate crisis. Whether it starts at home or with a community group, the green heart can be used as a symbol when asking your local MP to drive change towards protecting the climate. If you want to find out how you can get involved, download the Climate Coalition action pack here.

As well as supporting this initiative, the beach clean this month will as always support and form part of the Surfers Against Sewage beach clean movement, which enables volunteers from all ages and backgrounds to help protect the ocean.

If you’d like to help us spread the love, we’ll be at Long Rock Car Park on Sunday 13th February at 11am to clean up the coast from Long Rock to Eastern Green. As always, kit will be provided for free, so you can help pick up discarded rubbish and plastic that could eventually be washed into the ocean. Feel free to bring your own gloves, bags and anti-bac if you feel better doing that.

No pre-sign up is required, just simply turn up on the day, just one thing to remember … children under 16 will need to be accompanied by an adult.

See you there!

Feel free to tag us on on Insta and Facebook on the day to share your beach clean experience. We’d love to hear your stories

PackSwap PZ is Back

It’s official – PackSwap PZ is back. If you haven’t heard of PackSwap yet, it’s an initiative run through Plastic Free Penzance that enables businesses and individuals to re-use any plastic packaging that comes into town. It offers a free, eco-friendly alternative to single-use packaging – and the more businesses and locals that get involved, the more everyone benefits.

So how does PackSwap work?

It all starts when a local business gets a delivery. Once the order is unpacked, all that plastic packaging – whether it’s packing pellets, bubble wrap or air pockets – is no longer needed. So, rather than sending it to Cornwall’s incinerator, businesses can donate it to the PackSwap scheme.

There are two ways to donate packaging. You can post a picture and description on the PackSwap online page, and another member of the group can arrange to collect it. Or, you can bring any packaging along to our new PackSwap Hub with Mor Swimmy, at the old Burtons store in Penzance. We re-open Saturday 11th December, and will also be there on 18th December for your Christmas posting and packing needs. After that we’ll be back in the New Year, every Saturday from 8th January, 10:30am until 12pm.

Once packaging is donated, anyone in the community is welcome to it. You might be a small eco-friendly startup, a bigger business looking to cut costs, moving house or have things to post to friends and family. Whatever you need, you can collect any free packaging you need from the hub or or the FB group.

Three ways PackSwap can benefit your business

Whatever size your business is, there’s plenty of ways you can benefit from PackSwap PZ:

It’s super-cheap option for your packaging needs

It’s free packaging! You can stock up on packaging pellets, jiffy bags, bubble wrap, or anything else you need, without having to pay out for costly alternatives that you can only use once. And with Christmas fast approaching, now is a great time to take advantage of the scheme.

It offers an eco-friendly alternative to single-use packaging

Today, packaging accounts for 40% of plastic pollution. Most of it is used once, then is thrown away and left for incineration – despite being perfectly usable. By re-using packaging, you’re helping to create a circular economy, and stopping single-use plastic from entering our ecosystems.

It can help you build stronger connections with your local community

 At its heart, PackSwap promotes collaboration. It’s a way to build new connections with your neighbouring businesses, and help Penzance become a cleaner, greener community.

Get involved

You can get involved with PackSwap PZ today by visiting the online page . From there, you can join the community, ask any questions you have, share your own spare packaging, or collect packaging from other group members.

Or you can drop off your spare packaging weekly, by visiting the PackSwap Hub with Mor Swimmy, at the old Burtons store. Starting Saturday 11th December , the stall will be open every Saturday from 10:30am to 12pm for drop offs and collections.

Plastic Free Gift Wrap Service

This year we’re all excited about winter festivities, spending some quality time with the family and sharing gifts with loved ones. Despite all the joy that comes with the season, there’s usually also a whole lot of unnecessary plastic.

At Plastic Free Penzance, we share lots of ways we can keep tat and plastic to a minimum and reduce the throwaway bits that come with this time of year.

One of the easiest ways we can help reduce single use plastic and waste this Christmas is to opt for Plastic Free Gift Wrapping. There are many creative and fun ways to do this and to inspire you we’ve listed our top tips here.

We’re here to help too – so if you want us to do the wrap work for you, just head to our free Gift Wrap station at the town’s Christmas Fairs – details at the end.

Our top 5 tips on plastic free wrapping:

Reuse gift paper – If you’re like us and can’t bear to throw away perfectly usable gift paper, then save it for next year! If your old stuff is tatty, you could always opt for using things like newspapers, magazines or brown paper to wrap all your gifts, which can be easily recycled too.

Use ribbon or string instead of tape – We’re a big fan of ribbon and string, and not only does it look pretty on your presents, but it can be reused year after year and beats using plastic filled sellotape. And it makes all the brown paper and newspaper look pretty cool too.

Get your Furoshiki on – Say goodbye to any wrapping paper with this badass Japanese gift wrapping technique. A lesser known version of origami, this method involves using only fabric to wrap your gifts. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll never use paper again! If you want to learn for this Christmas, this easy to use guide can be found online below

Say goodbye to old Christmas cards – Finally, a use for those old Christmas cards that you’ve got stuffed in a drawer. Instead of buying present tags, create your own by cutting up old Christmas cards. You’ll also get some serious credit for making your own.

Get back to nature – Nature is pretty awesome and what better way to jazz up some wrapping paper than with some REAL holly or mistletoe? Take a trip to the woods and forage for some fallen foliage, or you could even pick up some pine cones to decorate your home. The world is your oyster.

We’ll be offering a plastic free gift wrapping service at the Christmas markets in Penzance throughout the festive season. Still to come:

  • Saturday 4th December – we’ll be at the Penwith College Christmas Fair between 10am-2pm
  • Saturday 18th December – we’ll be at the Makers Market at The Exchange all day, followed by the Lantern Parade

We’d love to see you there and we’re also offering plastic free gift wrapping ‘kits’ if you’d prefer to wrap your gifts at home.

As always, we’d love to hear about your plastic free gift wrapping experiences or tips, so please feel free to tag us on Insta and Facebook.

Was the Tour of Britain Plastic Free?

Tackling plastic waste is a tough job – especially when it comes to big events. But as the people of Penzance welcomed the Tour of Britain to town, were there signs that things are changing?

Just a few weeks ago, more than a hundred cyclists zoomed through PZ’s streets in a nail-biting first stage of the competition, which saw cyclists riding 180km through Cornish countryside, from Penzance to Bodmin (and a myriad of other towns along the way).

Unsurprisingly, thousands of people headed to town to mark the beginning of the nationally-renowned event. And, after 18 months of restrictions and a total shut down on large celebrations, it’s safe to say the atmosphere was buzzing!

Even as festivities kicked off for the Grand Depart on that mizzly Sunday morning, it was smiles all round and a feeling of excitement to be back in the thick of it all once more. From the cycling enthusiasts to the families tagging along for the ride, this was no doubt a historic moment for PZ.

But, as with all events, there always comes a certain degree of rubbish. In all honesty, it’s almost expected at this point. That’s why we always like to be prepared; in this case, with the volunteer crew from Plastic Free Penzance who were on hand to snatch up plastic packaging pollution before it could cause irreparable damage.

A pleasant surprise

However, what they found was a pleasant surprise… there wasn’t as much waste as expected. In fact, they quickly noted that all riders were carrying refillable water bottles and the traders running the market stalls had put the effort in to reduce the amount of plastic being given out. The town’s Plastic Free Charter, which was sent out in advance to local and national organisers, had been embraced.

We were absolutely thrilled to see the charter in action,  it demonstrates that being a Plastic Free Community, almost four years down the line, has become embedded in our culture. That volunteers picked up so much less than expected is an absolute win for Penzance and shows that hosting big events doesn’t have to mean big amounts of waste. Penzance is helping lead the way when it comes to sustainability and it’s not being confined to our own households.

However, while things are certainly on the up, it doesn’t necessarily mean the job is done. Cigarette butts, which are made of non-biodegradable plastic, were the top find on the clean at the Tour of Britain and can still be incredibly harmful to wildlife. Now Sustainable PZ will be counting up how many butts it finds on its street and beach cleans through Plastic Free PZ,  to call for special butt bins.

Taking it further

We still have a long way to go, but the good news is that we can all help. If you’re planning on heading to a big event in town there are ways to reduce your eco-impact, in fact, Sustainable PZ have created a guide right here for you. It’s got tips for everything from getting here to what to bring with you, so you can make sure you’re putting the planet and people at the top of your list.

And event organisers? Look out for the new event toolkit coming soon, to help you support our ambitions to becoming a truly sustainable community.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to keep up with our latest advice and tips – or even share some of your own.