A Cornwall Councillor is calling on the owners of the 23,000 holiday and second homes in Cornwall to give any unopened food, left over toiletries or other items to foodbanks and charities in the county.

Joyce Duffin, the member for Mount Hawke and Portreath, was approached by local resident Beverley Mitchell who was concerned at the amount of waste from people visiting Cornwall on holiday.

“She told me she had been helping a friend clean some holiday cottages during the peak tourist season and was shocked by the amount of waste which was left behind by the holiday makers” said Joyce.

“In many cases a cleaning company goes in and throws everything which has been left behind into black bags which then end up in landfill. This includes both unopened packets and tins of food, and toiletries such as soap, shower gel and shampoo. Many of these items could easily and safely be used by other people and it is surely wrong that they are just thrown away when they could be given to local foodbanks or to the homeless charities.”

Following the initial discussion Joyce contacted organisations in Cornwall to see if they would be interested in taking part in the scheme. To her delight a number have responded enthusiastically.

“The foodbanks in Penzance, Camborne, Pool and Redruth, Launceston, Liskeard and Looe, St Austell and Truro, along with Cosgarne Hall and STAK in St Austell and the Mission to Seafarers, and hostels such as St Petroc’s and New Connections in Camborne have all confirmed that they would be interested in receiving donations of any shelf stable unopened food” she said.

“A number have also said they would welcome donations of toiletries and any good quality clothes and bedding”.

Don Gardner, from the Camborne, Pool, Redruth Foodbank, said “The CPR food bank is always looking for ways of using suitable waste products that are safe and in date. With our "more than food" policy we also offer a wide range of household products on a weekly basis to our clients so this new initiative will be a great help.

“From the first week in July we will also be able to offer a storage facility to use as a distribution centre for other food banks to collect these products”.

Joyce is now keen to encourage the owners of holiday and second homes to join in the scheme. “Rather than throw items away when they clean the properties ready for the next group of visitors, we would ask them to recycle unopened shelf stable food and left over toiletries – either by taking them to their local food bank or charity, or by dropping them off at the boxes in supermarkets.

“We know, however, that one of the main problems with cleaning companies is that their staff do not have the time to take the items to the food banks etc. We are asking home owners to consider paying for a little extra time so that the cleaners can drop the items off for recycling”.

Joyce has also contacted Malcolm Bell, the head of VisitCornwall to enlist his help in promoting the scheme. Another enthusiastic supporter of the initiative, he has promised to send details to businesses involved with tourism in his next monthly newsletter.

“I am sure this initiative will be welcomed by them as they would want the surplus foods they cannot take home being used to help local communities, rather than go to waste. Likewise, our tourism businesses are keen to support communities, as and when they can, so this truly is a win-win initiative.

Joyce is hoping that a large number of the 8,248 holiday lets and 14,446 second home owners in Cornwall will support the scheme.

“This project will not only help the organisations who are supporting people in Cornwall who are struggling to make ends meet, it will also help reduce the amount of waste going to our landfill sites” she said.

If this scheme is successful, Joyce is already making plans to approach hotels and guest houses to encourage them to donate bedding and towels if they are replacing them at the summer season. She also wants to look at how the council can encourage holiday makers to either take unopened or partly used items home with them or to provide information on when and where they can recycle items themselves rather than leaving them in their holiday let.

“In a holiday area like Cornwall the issue of waste left behind by the millions of holiday makers who come to stay is a big issue“ she said.

“But if we all work together I am confident it is an issue we can resolve.“

Anyone who would like more information about the scheme can contact Joyce Duffin on 01209 842713 or e mail jmduffin@cornwall.gov.uk