A community group is celebrating a year of achievements as it continues to tackle throw away plastic at its source.

Mold resident Sarah Pratt, and town councillor Andrea Mearns started a campaign exactly 12 months ago after the town’s annual spring clean event.

Sarah said: “So much plastic waste was collected it was high time to take action and, inspired by the work done by our neighbours in Chester and Llangollen, we decided to get a plastic reduction campaign going in Mold.

The Mold Plastic Reduction Group was formed in the Daniel Owen Community Centre on May 13 last year and residents then agreed to work towards the Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) Plastic Free Communities movement.

Volunteers Saskia Webster and Jenny Thomas worked to coordinate key organisations and businesses in the town to put in place the SAS five-point plan.

As well as limiting the amount of single-use plastics, these objectives work towards getting local schoolchildren to create an environmental change and also getting support from the local council and businesses in the town to spread messages of support for the cause.

Sarah continued: “Right from the outset, when we had to get more chairs out at the first public meeting, we knew we had incredible support from the people of Mold.

“People really were concerned about plastics in the parks, streets, and rivers, ending up in the ocean and were prepared and ready to act. They made it clear over the next few months what they wanted from a plastic reduction campaign - setting out a list of over 249 actions!”

Now the group is celebrating that they have become the third community in North Wales to be awarded Plastic Free Community status by the marine conservation charity.

Sarah added: “The great thing about achieving SAS certification is the acknowledgement of all the hard work of every volunteer that got involved along the way. The people of Mold made this happen.

“There has always been recognition that getting the certification was the first part of a much longer and more ambitious plan, and we have already set future targets at a meeting held in March before lockdown.”

In the last 12 months, Mold Plastic Reduction has held a series of events ranging from stalls at Mold festivals to mass unwrap events in Tesco, Aldi and Lidl.

Sarah also spoke about some the local businesses in Mold that have pledged their support in many ways that are collectively making a big difference.

Local firm Celtic Financial Planning stopped using bottled water in meetings by simply providing a jug of water and glasses.

Angel Feathers, a fruit and natural spirits business, went to the lengths of replacing the plastic bottle seal on products with a biodegradable tamper-proof seal and changing to a supplier who eliminated bubble wrap.

The group has also got behind City to Sea’s Refill scheme, encouraging people to request water bottle top ups in the town and cutting out the need for bottled water. To date, 30 businesses in the town have signed up to the app.

Councillor Andrea Mearns explained how community organisations are doing their bit too.

She said: “Community spaces and organisations including the Daniel Owen Centre, Parkfields Community Centre, Outside Lives and Theatr Clwyd have made changes such as switching to glass milk bottles and working with their ice-cream supplier to change products.

“Until lockdown, a monthly repair café was being held and Outside Lives were preparing an Earth Day event for local schools.”

Local politicians have also shared support for the cause, including Hannah Blythyn MS and senior county councillor for the area Carolyn Thomas.

Ms Blythyn said: “It has been brilliant to see Plastic Reduction Mold go from strength to strength – thanks in no small part to the amazing army of volunteers who give up both time and expertise.

“We are in prime position here in Mold and in Wales as a whole to continue to lead the way when it comes to reducing waste and becoming a truly circular economy.”

Mrs Thomas, Flintshire Council cabinet member for countryside and Streetscene, added: “I would like to personally thank the Mold Plastic Reduction group during their first birthday celebration for being a leader in the community sharing information and ideas on how to reduce, re-use and recycle.

“Their enthusiasm has really helped and encouraged many others to follow and care for our natural environment. I wish them well with their continued work for years to come.”

Rachel Yates, SAS Plastic Free communities project officer, said: “It is great to see the work that Mold has done to reduce the availability of avoidable plastics, raise awareness and encourage people to refill and reuse.

“We have over 600 communities across the UK working to reduce single use plastic and the impact it has on our environment. Every step those communities and the individuals in them take is a step towards tackling the problem at source, challenging our throwaway culture and encouraging the habit and system changes we need to see.”

The group are inviting people to join them with homemade birthday cakes for a party held via Zoom on Wednesday evening where they can tell all about future plans and how people can still get involved.

They will also be joined by Lucy Siegle, a journalist and writer on environmental issues who also presents on The One Show.

The group can be found on Facebook by searching for Plastic Reduction Mold / Lleihau Plastig Yr Wyddgrug.