WAYS of cutting down on single use plastic in Dorset Council buildings has been agreed.

The policy is the first positive move ten months after the authority declared a climate and ecological emergency.

In many council buildings single use plastic cups, bottles and other plastic catering items have already been ruled out, often through staff taking their own initiatives.

On Tuesday the council’s Cabinet formally agreed the proposals to reduce single use plastic in all 14 Dorset Council offices and to then move on to reduce single use plastic in other council services and operations.

An audit reported to councillors found small plastic milk pots in use at County Hall and Princes House, Dorchester with plastic milk containers in 13 out of 14 council offices; plastic water cups at three offices; plastic cutlery and plastic water bottles at County Hall and single use plastic bottles for cleaning products in use at six council offices.

Climate change panel chairman Cllr Ray Bryan said he hoped the initiative would also be taken on by schools and in other public organisations.

He said that there could also be a cost-saving by not accumulating plastic with the fee for disposing of non-recyclable plastic now at £45 per tonne.

“And of course the damage to the environment cannot be costed,” he told Cabinet colleagues.

Council leader Spencer Flower said the adoption of the policy represented a positive approach from the council and “a step in the right direction.”

Cllr Bryan says the council has now received 750 responses to ways the authority can help tackle climate and ecological change and was also investigating what others councils were doing – including a scheme in York where solar panels were being put up in car parks, the power from them being used for electric vehicle charging points.

He said he was aware that people were questioning why it had taken so long to come up with policies but said he hoped to lay out a plan within the next three months for the council to head towards being carbon neutral.