Edinburgh urged to become plastic-free council

Green Councillor Steve Burgess with some of the plastic packaging given to his kids in their lunch bags from their Gaelic Primary School on Bonnington Road. Picture: Greg Macvean
Green Councillor Steve Burgess with some of the plastic packaging given to his kids in their lunch bags from their Gaelic Primary School on Bonnington Road. Picture: Greg Macvean
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THE city council is being urged to lead the way over the environment and go plastic-free.

Edinburgh Green group leader Steve Burgess is calling for a ban on plastic bottles, trays and cutlery and plastic-coated paper cups.

Western Isles Council last week became the first authority in Scotland to pledge an end to the use of plastic straws, but Cllr Burgess wants the Capital to go further and eliminate all disposable plastic items.

And he says the council should extend the policy to its arms-length companies like Edinburgh Leisure.

The move comes after the Scottish Government announced plastics are to be banned in Scotland by 2030.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said she has told civil servants to look at restricting sale and manufacture of all non-recyclable plastics “on an item-by-item basis”.

The EU pledged to make all plastic packaging reusable or recyclable by 2030 to cut the amount of straws, bottles, cups, lids, stirrers, cutlery and takeaway packaging that pollute land and sea alike.

The Scottish environment secretary has now matched the EU’s 2030 commitment and urged the UK Government to do the same.

Earlier this month SNP MSP Kate Forbes launched her “final straw” campaign for a swift ban on single-use, disposable items such as plastic straws, cotton buds and throwaway cutlery where environmentally friendly, biodegradable or reusable alternatives exist.

Cllr Burgess said: “Plastic straws are certainly damaging to the environment but the amount of other single-use plastics that are being used by councils including Edinburgh is far greater than straws alone.”

A report on reducing the use of plastic bottles is due before councillors soon.

But Cllr Burgess said: “With the world waking up to the dreadful impact of plastic on the environment, I’d like to see that extended to all so-called disposable plastics. The council has an opportunity to lead by example here.

“Edinburgh Council should commit to going disposable-free, this means eliminating plastic straws and also bottles, trays and cutlery and plastic-coated paper cups. And not just within the council itself but the council contracts to and operates at arms-length such as Edinburgh Leisure that run the city’s leisure centre cafes.

“For example our primary school kids get thousands of plastic bottles of water in packed lunches. Instead the council should ensure that every child has a reusable bottle, they can bring to school and refill.

“If we really need to use disposables rather than reusables, there are now biodegradable alternatives to the plastic pollution that contaminates our environment for thousands of years.”

He said the council could also help drive down the use of disposables like coffee cups. “I’d like to see an ‘Edinburgh cup’ that coffee shops could refill, so I’ll be asking the council to support that sort of initiative.’

A council spokeswoman said: “As a council we are committed to increasing the amount of waste recycled in Edinburgh.”