Dorset Council cutting down on single-use plastic

plastic wasteDORSET Council is making efforts to reduce the amount of single-use plastic used in its offices.

Officers from Litter Free Dorset presented a proposal on the reduction of single-use plastic to members of the council’s Climate Change and Ecological Emergency Executive Advisory Panel just before Christmas.

They explained how the team is currently helping Dorset Council employees remove and reduce single use plastic across council offices. They also set out the proposed Single Use Plastic (SUP) policy, designed to remove or reduce the amount of SUP used in wider services delivered by Dorset Council.

Written and developed in conjunction with elected members and officers, the policy was given unanimous support by the panel and will shortly be taken to the council’s Place Scrutiny Committee and Cabinet for approval.

The panel was also given a brief update on the launch of Dorset Council’s ‘Call for Ideas’, which has attracted more than 200 responses from members of the public so far.

Some of the more developed ideas will be selected for presentation at the panel’s forthcoming Inquiry Day. This will take place on Friday, February 21 and will see people present their ideas directly to the panel. The session will be open for the general public to view and details will be publicised nearer the time.

The panel was updated on progress of the Buildings Task & Finish group. Councillors were given information on the current state of the council’s emissions via its own buildings, as well as possible areas for action and opportunity in the future when looking at carbon reduction.

While the panel were satisfied with the progress being made, members remained keen to explore how the planning system can help mitigate climate change by potentially introducing new incentives and regulations for future developments.

Dorset Council planners will be invited to attend a future panel meeting and discuss how climate change is being dealt with as part of the emerging local plan, as well as clarifying national planning policy.

Panel members agreed that the continuing ambition is for Dorset to become ‘green’ – reach a net-zero carbon emission state – as quickly as possible. There is also an aspiration for Dorset Council to produce its own green energy, rather than buy it in from external suppliers, although the door remains open to all green energy options in the meantime.

In other business, the panel reiterated their intention to visit local schools to talk to students directly about climate change this year, as well as continue to find ways to put pressure on central government to provide better support for councils who have declared a climate and ecological emergency.

Members were also pleased to hear of the appointment of a new Corporate Sustainability Officer, who will have a lead role in pulling the Task & Finish groups’ work together and formulating the Council’s climate change strategy and action plan.

Cllr Ray Bryan, chair of Dorset Council’s Climate Change Executive Advisory Panel, commented: “When it comes to playing our part in tackling this climate and ecological emergency, we’re not interested in making empty gestures or vague pledges.

“We intend to take decisive action that will make a real impact in reducing our carbon footprint and give people something they can hold us to account for.

“While I appreciate that a vocal minority may be frustrated with the amount of research and evidence gathering that needs to take place before we consider setting targets, we are holding steady in our plans simply because it is the right thing to do in the interests of the hundreds of thousands of Dorset residents we provide vital services for.

“I would kindly ask that people who have strong views and ideas on what we should be doing to mitigate climate change to complete the Call for Ideas online form. Rest assured, we are continuing to treat this work as a priority and I want to make sure our strategy and action plan will see our fight against climate change become ‘business as usual’ for Dorset Council.”

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