A town celebrating its designation as 'plastic-free' raised eyebrows online for celebrating the achievement with a large banner made of plastic.
It took only three months for the Welsh town of Chepstow to achieve its status as one of the U.K.'s "plastic-free communities," and the first one in South Wales, according to the Chepstow Beacon. The honor is given by the marine conservation group Surfers Against Sewage.
More than 300 towns have received the designation so far in the U.K., according to the BBC. To get it, a town has to take steps to reduce the use of single-use plastic products like disposable straws and silverware, according to the BBC.
In June, the town celebrated at a Sunday market after they made the cut.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
"Chepstow Town Council is fully committed to reducing plastic in the town and has passed a resolution to remove single use plastic from its own premises and the events it supports. We are delighted by this news and looking forward to the next steps," town Councilor Lissett Burrett said, according to the Chepstow Beacon.
The town unfurled a triangular banner, emblazoned with the Plastic-Free Chepstow logo and "Wales' first plastic-free market." But many online were quick to point out the irony of using a plastic banner to celebrate the town's accomplishment - including the former mayor.
"This is beyond irony," former mayor Armand Watts said according to the BBC. "The town council probably hadn't even thought about the material. If this is non-biodegradable, then it clearly should be removed and replaced."
Twitter users were also quick to criticize the move.
But both Surfers Against Sewage and Plastic-Free Chepstow said the backlash against the banner was a misunderstanding.
“Yes, it is a plastic banner,” Plastic-Free Chepstow said, according to The Guardian. “We are not against all plastics as many are obviously very useful when they are designed to last for a long time and be reused over and over. Our group focuses on reducing single-use plastic consumption."
The group wrote on Twitter that the banner is "hard-wearing plastic" and will be re-used at future events.
Surfers Against Sewage told The Guardian the focus on the banner instead of the town's achievement was "nonsense."
"The community in Chepstow has done amazing work reaching out to businesses, councils, community groups. They should be applauded. Plastic Free Communities is not about removing all plastics. Plastic is a very useful material. It’s a distraction to focus on the banner," the group told the paper.
The U.K. is not alone in its bid to reduce or eliminate single-use plastics. California is advancing a bill that would require customers to request plastic straws at eateries instead of just having them handed out. Museums, businesses and other institutions in Chicago are also reportedly souring on drinking straws.
New York City is considering a ban on plastic foam food containers, and SeaWorld has banned plastic bags and straws from many of its theme parks.