A COUNCIL has been accused of dragging its feet over calls for it to lead the fight against plastic items that cannot be re-used.

An on-line petition created by Wivey Action on Climate and Environment urging Taunton Deane Borough Council to become single-use plastic free has more than 800 signatures.

Backed by four other groups, it wants the authority to:

  • phase out single-use plastic products like bottles, cups, cutlery and straws and cut "unnecessary" plastic bags in all council activities;
  • encourage users of council facilities, businesses and public agencies to do likewise by promoting re-usable plastic items;
  • submit a report summarising single-use plastic within the council.

A spokesman for the initiative said: "Single-use plastic is a symptom of a throwaway and wasteful culture. Plastics are now littering our coastlines and polluting our seas. It's being swallowed and eaten and is killing wildlife.

"Many alternatives exist. We can refill and reuse water bottles. Cups should be washed and reused. Cutlery should be reusable or compostable.

"Straws can be avoided or, if necessary, there are alternatives to plastic. Plastic bags can be avoided through using long-life reusable carriers."

The demand follows the Queen's reported ban on plastic straws and bottles from the Royal estate.

Cllr Patrick Berry (Conservative), Deane House executive councillor for environmental services, said the council "is conscious of" the "important issue".

He added: "We're already using disposable plastic bottles, plastic drinking straws and plastic bags.

"If we're going to encourage our service providers, suppliers and local businesses to go 'single-use plastic free', we need to set an example."

Mr Berry added: "It's essential we work within the parameters of current and forthcoming legislation and liaise with other local authorities who may be working towards similar objectives."

Meanwhile, a LibDem motion calls on the council to publicise the fact that 14 Somerset recycling centres, including Priorswood and Poole, accept plastic-lined paper cups.

Cllr Simon Nicholls said: "Local action can make a difference. LibDem councillors welcome the petition to combat the single use of plastics and want to go further.

"We want to set up a cross-party working group, including parishes, to look at ways of eliminating single-use plastics in council offices and engaging with coffee shops, pubs and restaurants."

Cllr Habib Farbahi said: "Everyone agrees plastic waste is a major threat to life in our oceans, as well as to human health.

"There are now over five trillion pieces of plastic in the world's oceans, where around 10 per cent of the plastics we produce end up."

He criticised the Deane for "waiting to see" what other authorities do.

"We should lead by example, not wait to see what other councils do," said Mr Farbahi.

"If it's good enough for the Queen, surely it's good enough for us."