The harmful effect single use plastics are having on the environment was –literally – the last straw for Falkirk Council as it decided to take action on the issue.
At a meeting of the council’s executive on Tuesday, members agreed to introduce a ban, with immediate effect, on all single use plastics – including drinking straws – in the local authority’s headquarters and other premises.
It is believed Falkirk is the first council in Scotland to take such action and the new agreement will see the authority stop buying specific plastic items, look at alternative products and continue to reuse, wherever possible, plastic materials they already have.
Single use plastics, or disposable plastics, are used only once before they are thrown away or recycled and, as well as straws, include plastic bags, coffee stirrers, water bottles and food packaging.
The problem – as highlighted by the BBC’s Blue Planet II – is petroleum based plastic is not biodegradable and usually goes into landfill where it is buried or it gets into the water and finds its way into the ocean.
After many years it breaks down into tiny particles and in the process releases toxic chemicals which can make their way into our food and water supply.
Falkirk Council has now drawn up a number of actions it is taking to deal with the problem, including stopping all purchases of drinking straws and stirrers, removing plastic cups, promoting reusable containers and sourcing alternatives to plastic plates and cutlery.
Councillor Paul Garner, council environment spokesman, said: “By introducing these measures we hope we can contribute to a growing world campaign against single use plastics. There are more environmentally friendly alternatives, however, we would always aim to encourage a reduction in use or reuse wherever possible.
“We will be writing to our suppliers explaining our decision, stressing we want to work with them to find alternatives. I’m sure other councils will follow our lead.”