Moray Council sets target of ridding single-use plastics in effort to protect coastline

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Moray Council pledged to reduce the amount of single-use plastic it throws away in order to encourage others to protect the region’s coastline.

The local authority already spends about £20,000 every year clearing up litter collected from roadsides across the region.

However, that total does not include the cost of disposing of the vast quantities of rubbish and plastic cleared from beaches to be dumped in landfill.

Yesterday, the council’s policy and resources committee unanimously backed proposals to stop buying the plastic where “practically possible”.

Senior management stressed the current drive to trim £14million from next year’s budget meant they would be unable to spend extra money on the initiative – unless funded by an external grant.

But Speyside Glenlivet councillor Louise Laing believes it was important that the council set an example for others to follow.

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She said: “At the moment we are fighting a losing battle. The only way to make a difference is to actually stop buying the plastic.

“I do my best in the supermarket but I’ve seen broccoli that is cheaper when it is wrapped in plastic – somewhere people are making money off it.

“It’s only when there’s a market for alternatives that the cost of them will start to come down.”

Moray Council has already changed the plastic used in schools for sandwich wedges away from a disposable option.

Meanwhile, paper cups are now used at water coolers in the headquarters and annexe buildings in Elgin and plastic cutlery is only used in schools when dishwashers have broken.

Forres councillor George Alexander backed the drive but warned it was important not to get “carried away by idealisms”.

He added: “It’s taken us 50 or 60 years to get to this point so we’re not going to get rid of it in five minutes. It’s important to keep in mind the cost to the Moray taxpayer at a time we are trying to save money.”

Council leader Graham Leadbitter said: “When beach cleans are done there is a massive cost to the council to collect the rubbish and put it in landfill.

“Yes, it may feel like we are fighting a fairly big battle here but it needs people, no matter what size of authority or country they are, to pull together as best they can.”