MELROSE is leading the way in banishing single-use plastics.

Campaigners in the town have joined forces with several national organisations.

And they have now been awarded Plastic Free Community status by marine conservation charity, Surfers Against Sewage (SAS).

Melrose teacher, Tom Rawson started the campaign late last year after a successful campaign to make St Mary’s Scotland’s first Plastic Free primary school.

Registering with the SAS Plastic Free Communities movement, Mr Rawson pulled together key organisations and businesses in the town to put in place a five-point plan.

The objectives included setting up a community led steering group, instigating the SAS Plastic Free Schools education programme, getting local council commitment and working with local businesses, organisations and community groups to spread the word and minimise the amount of disposable plastics they use.

Tom told the Border Telegraph: “This has been a real community effort.

"We are all proud of the efforts that Melrose businesses have made and continue to make to reduce single-use plastics in the town. We are also amazed by the support that the entire region has shown with nearly 200 people helping clear litter from Tweed at the Seven-Towns-One-River event.

"To be the first Plastic Free Approved community in the South of Scotland is a huge achievement.

"However, we know that there is still so much to be done to continue to reduce single-use plastics.

"We also know that this is not just about Melrose. There is so much progress being made across the region that we know we will not be the last."

Campaigners hope the work undertaken in Melrose will inspire other communities across the Borders to also ditch single-use plastics.

And on October 27 towns and villages in the region will have the opportunity to take part in a Borders River Clean in an effort to target waste and discarded plastics in every major river in the Tweed catchment.

Councillor Gordon Edgar, who is the region's Energy Efficiency Champion, said: “This is an excellent project which is seeing members of the community and a charity come together to play their part to encourage businesses in the Melrose area to reduce their use of plastics.

“As a council, we are aware of our responsibilities and are currently looking to develop our commitment to sustainable development.

“We would encourage everyone to consider their use of plastics, with any reduction providing environmental benefits as well as a potential saving to Council budgets in landfill tax at a time of significant pressures on public spending.”

Nationally, the Surfers Against Sewage Plastic Free Community network aims to free communities across the UK from single-use plastics.

Using the five point plan the aim is to empower communities to kick start local grassroots action, which can then be built upon.

Rachel Yates, SAS Plastic Free Communities Project Officer, said: “It’s great to see the work that Melrose has done to reduce the availability of avoidable plastics, raise awareness and encourage people to refill and reuse.

“We have over 500 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.”