Skip navigation Home Page News and Events Help Complaints Legal Information Contact Us Top of Page

Agenda item

Single Use Plastics: From Pledge to Practice


The Committee considered the joint report of the Corporate Director of Regeneration and Local Services and Director of Transformation and Partnerships that provided members with a progress report on the work to reduce the use of Single Use Plastics in Durham County Council and County Durham (for copy or report, see file of minutes).


The Head of Environment was in attendance to present the report and deliver a presentation that highlighted the following points:


·       Background

o   What was the Council doing to phase out SUPs? Could it sign a pledge?

o   What partners in County Durham were doing including businesses?

o   What could the Council do as a land owner and licensing authority as well as public events

·       Work to date: Action Plan – Corporate Procurement Services

·       Adopted a bespoke Single Use Plastic Pledge for County Durham County Council

·       Single Use Plastic Pledge – 188 had pledged to date

·       SUP logo

·       Work to date: Action Plan

o   DCC Catering Services

o   Consumer Protection Services

o   Education

o   Highways

o   Waste Management

o   Culture and Sport

o   External Partner Engagement

·       Working with Partners – Northumbrian Water Refill Campaign

·       Work to date: Action Plan – Communications

·       Action Plan Summary

·       Next Steps

·       Summary

·       Task Group Recognition – The team had won a national award


Members were advised that to date there were 188 Single Use Plastic pledges across County Durham from individuals, schools, community groups and businesses. There was a potential for regional SUP reduction pledge based on Durham County Council’s example.


In Durham County Council offices and Beamish Museum crisp packets were being recycled through a registered scheme, however this was not open to households. In Durham City there were now recycling bins alongside general waste bins and street cleaning operatives carried two bags one for general waste and one for recycling.


The Head of Environment advised that while a lot of actions within the action plan was complete further work was being identified. Work was being shared with County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service.


The work to eliminate SUPs had achieved a lot in a short time and that the service had a better understanding. Alternatives should be more environmentally beneficial and would get more sophisticated.


The Chair thanked the Head of Environment for his presentation and indicated that the report demonstrated the tremendous amount of work that had been achieved over a small time period. He congratulated the team on winning the national award for the single use plastics pledge at the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee awards.


Mr T Bolton referred to environment champions within the authority that use to be in each service and asked if this structure was still in place.


The Head of Environment responded that the scheme was still in place but had been revamped with climate change in mind and a number of employees had signed up to the scheme.


In response to the question from Councillor Iveson, Members were advised that not many organisations were able to successfully recycle black plastic. The Strategic Waste Manager advised that in relation to carbon black food trays the infra-red technology in recycling plants cannot pick up carbon black. However, this was slowly being changed so that infra-red technologies could pick up black trays. Members were informed that when black enters the system it taints the colour of other plastics. In this region organisations do not have the technology; the service had three years of the contract left and could write new specifications into a new contract.


A company in Peterlee had a use for microwavable food trays so they were hoping to work with the company.


Councillor Dunn commented that a significant amount of work and progress had been made. He commended the action plan and stated that single use plastics was not just about signing a pledge but was about what and how we are going to do to deliver. Some people did not know where to start and by publishing information others could pick it up, so the authority could lead. He was delighted to hear that suppliers were asking how they could help, and organisations were wanting to get on board. He was aware that the Co-op had moved away from black plastic trays which hopefully would force other food suppliers to move away from black plastic trays.


The Head of Environment advised that it was about communications and that there was investment of a web presence to signpost individuals and organisations. To date there was 188 signatories and most wanted further contact. Top tips were given on the web and it had generated a virtual community of interest.


The Chair advised that following Councillor Dunn’s query at Economy and Enterprise Overview and Scrutiny Committee about Climate Change being embedded into the implications sheet on committee reports this was being discussed by Committee Services and Legal Services.


Mrs P Holding indicated that she was pleased that more guidance was coming out on what could be recycled and understood that black plastic container if clean could be used for road surfacing.


The Head of Environment responded that recycling changed throughout the country and the government’s intention was to make every authority the same, however this needed a lot in investment in the infrastructure to bring everyone to the same level. The Council constantly sent out advice on what could and couldn’t be recycled. At Durham County Council the service had put stickers on bins and invested in officers to go out to knock on doors and explain and engage with communities. The Head of Environment gave the example of how the service engaged with students of what can and cannot be recycled in Durham.


Councillor Coult asked if other city centres had dual bins and referred to the pledge for the recycling of crisp packets and asked how many schools had signed up and if they could be used as a drop off point for members of the public to take their crisp packets.


In response to the question, Members were advised that 20 schools had signed up to the Walkers pledge, however the number of trials was limited at this stage and the authority were lucky to be part of the scheme. Walkers do have public collection points for crisp packets. In County Durham the Care Share Foundation were offering crisp packet recycling to the public.


Mrs R Morris sought clarification if the council recycled black plastic plant pots as her local nursery recycled these.


The Head of Environment indicated that he was not aware of a scheme, but he did know that the council’s nursery reused plant pots and looked to avoid the use of single use plastics.


Mrs R Morris asked if companies who recycled could be recognised.


The Waste Strategy Team Manager responded that they were working with the Comms Team to show case some examples.


The Strategic Waste Manager indicated that plant pots could be recycled at the household waste centres but not the kerbside. They had also been approached by a company for plastic pellets for use on roads who they had put in touch with the household waste centres.


Resolved: That the report be noted.

Supporting documents:


Democratic Services
Durham County Council
County Hall
County Durham
03000 269 714