Highland Council approves new strategy to reduce single use plastics
Highland Council has become the first local authority in Scotland to develop a holistic strategy and action plan to reduce the consumption of single use plastics from its sites and schools, and the wider community. The strategy and action plan was approved at a meeting of the Council’s Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee today (8 November).
Awareness of the significant environmental damage being caused globally by single use plastics has been raised in the public consciousness, and there is widespread momentum and support to reduce our dependency on these items. The Council recognises that, as the local authority having the longest coastline in Scotland, the region has a key role to play in reducing plastic waste as part of its overall sustainable waste strategy.
Vice Chair of the Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee, Cllr. Trish Robertson said: “The strategy outlines how the Council plans to address this significant issue and includes a number of actions to be undertaken over the next 18 months including removing non-essential single use items and working with our suppliers to identify sustainable alternatives where appropriate. We will also review recycling infrastructure in key locations across our estate including piloting onsite compost facilities at Lochaber High School and the Council’s headquarters in Inverness.”
Cllr. Jimmy Gray, the Administration’s lead for the Environment said: “The issue of discarded plastics and marine pollution is high on the political agenda and the national and international picture in respect of tackling the issue of single use plastics is moving at pace. This is a dynamic strategy which will be updated to reflect changes in Government policy and industry practice along with community actions and responses.”
Cllr. Liz MacDonald, who is a member of the Council’s Single Use Plastics Working Group said: “We recognise the Council has a leadership role to play in encouraging communities and businesses to take action to remove plastic waste and litter from the environment. A network will be created to link pro-active businesses and communities together to share best practice.
“The Council also recognises the good progress businesses across the region are already making in respect of reducing their reliance on single use plastics. In my ward there are various terrific environmental initiatives such as Green Hive and James’ Café in Nairn and they deserve credit for their efforts.”
Cllr. Robertson added: “The Wildcat Café in Fort William is an excellent example of a local business which is striving, and winning, in the battle to become plastic free. They no longer provide disposable cups, encouraging customers to bring their own cup, purchase a reusable cup or borrow a ceramic cup which can be returned to a number of collection points in Fort William. The Café has its own shop, where customers can refill their own bags and containers with bread, vegetables, cleaning product refills, and unpackaged dry goods.”
The Manager of the Wildcat Café, Stephen Kershaw said: “Customers have reacted positively to the ban on disposable cups and our customer base has grown by offering packaging-free shopping. We are working to be a zero waste business and always request plastic free packaging when we order from suppliers.”
The Single Use Plastics Strategy and Action Plan can be viewed on the Council website.