TEAM members at a Yorkshire wildlife reserve are doing their bit to reduce single-use plastics.

Staff at the RSPB Bempton Cliffs reserve near Flamborough Head have said they are “acutely aware” that as a marine site, they have a responsibility to reduce their use of the items.

So visitor operations manager Scott Smith has undertaken a “plastics audit” to identify all such products in the grab-and-go refreshments offer and the team started to work on finding alternatives, such as sustainable cutlery and paper straws.

Over the last year, the reserve has updated its cold drinks range to eliminate plastic, so that all options are supplied in aluminium cans, glass bottles or recyclable Tetra Pak, including the aptly named “Water in a Box” which they say is already proving popular as a portable eco-friendly option.

This season, hot drinks will be in served in compostable Vegware cups that use plant materials instead of a plastic lining.

It’s this lining in disposable cups that makes them impossible for the reserve to recycle as no local facilities can handle the complex processing needed to separate the lining from the outer paper.

Unfortunately, there is a price to pay for sustainability as these alternatives are slightly more expensive.

Scott said: “We’ve taken the decision to ask our customers to share our goal of reducing plastic waste, by increasing the price of our hot drinks by 5p per cup.

“This helps to cover the cost of these cups and lids.

“We feel confident our visitors will support our efforts to keep plastic out of our landfills and oceans.”

Customers bringing their own reusable cups will be rewarded with a 20p discount for helping reduce waste.

Re-usable “keep cups” are also available to purchase at the reserve.

Site manager Alison Barratt added: “Plastic in the food industry is ubiquitous, and often there’s no viable alternative.

“So we’re on a journey to find the most sustainable options for our visitors and doing what we can to reduce our footprint.

“The opportunity to experience a unique wildlife spectacle with nearly half a million seabirds can be inspirational.

“If we can show our visitors how actions in their daily lives can positively impact nature as a result of their visit here, then together we can all make a difference.”

From April to October, the chalk cliffs of Bempton Cliffs support England’s largest population of seabirds.

The RSPB reserve there protects more than 5km of sea cliffs, which are ideal habitat for a large range of seabirds including gannets, puffins, guillemots, razorbills, fulmars, kittiwakes, herring gulls and shags.

These breeding seabirds are internationally important.

During the breeding season, the charity’s cliff top patrols help prevent disturbance by visitors and fishermen.

Grassland and scrub along the cliff tops are also home to breeding and wintering farmland birds such as tree sparrows, skylarks, linnets and overwintering short-eared owls, and the sea near the cliffs is home to seals and porpoises.

In January the UK Government published its "25 year plan" for the environment.

In a strategy outlined by the prime minister, the plan said that the Government will “crack down on plastics by eliminating all avoidable plastic waste through extending the 5p plastic bag charge to small retailers, removing consumer single-use plastics from the government estate, supporting the water industry to significantly increase water fountains and working with retailers on introducing plastic-free supermarket aisles.”