Published: 03/07/2018 15:29 - Updated: 03/07/2018 15:33

Highland Council steps up its battle with plastic

Written byIain Ramage

 

Highland Council is curbing the use of plastics at its headquarters
Highland Council is curbing the use of plastics at its headquarters

 

 

Highland Council’s gradual offensive on plastic use has made further ground.

There was confirmation at last week’s full council meeting of a move to phase out single-use plastics from its sites including schools and to go beyond statutory requirements.

The local authority has pledged to work closely with others and to help raise public awareness.

Setting an example, a plastic cup can now no longer be found at the council’s Inverness headquarters and a coffee machine that was supplied with polystyrene cups has also gone.

Alternatives are being explored in respect of replacing single use plastics elsewhere in council circles and councillors are aware they need to provide their own reusable cups and bottles to minimise plastic waste.

According to the council, most plastic currently produced can be recycled. The extent to which plastics are recycled depends on various technical, economic and logistical factors.

Single use plastics make up a significant proportion of waste ending up in landfill or in the natural environment and can take hundreds of years to degrade.

Councillors last week praised community initiatives such as Ullapool’s ban on plastic straws and Glen Urquhart High School sixth-former Emily McCloskey’s success in securing a grant to promote pupils’ use of reusable drinks bottles.

Ardersier councillor Trish Robertson, the vice chairwoman of the council’s environment committee, said: "It’s proposed to set up a cross-party working group to tackle this important issue. We need to work closely with staff, our partners and communities to support a strategy."

Labour group leader Jimmy Gray, the administration’s lead on environment issues, added: "Reducing the use of single use plastics will be an important part of our overall waste strategy which will help us prepare for the landfill ban in 2020."

The Scottish Government is, meanwhile, revisiting a tradition of the 1960s that should help.

A deposit-return scheme is being looked at, by which customers pay a small deposit when buying a drink in a single-use container – and get it back when returned empty.

It feels a consultation on the old idea is necessary.

About 2.5 billion single-use drinks containers are sold in Scotland each year.

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