THE use of disposable plastic cups, plates, cutlery and other items should be phased out in Caerphilly, Plaid Cymru has said.

The party made the call after a Freedom of Information (FOI) request revealed Caerphilly County Borough Council ordered 102,800 disposable plastic items from the start of April until the end of July - a space of just four months.

These items were used both for schools in the borough and the staff restaurant at the council's headquarters in Penallta House, Ystrad Mynach.

The FOI request also showed the council had bought 25,000 plastic cups for water dispensers at Penallta House over the past three financial years - including 14,000 in 2017-2018 alone.

With pressure to cut the use of disposable plastic mounting since the BBC's Blue Planet II programme showed the impact of plastic dumping on the world's oceans, leader of the council's Plaid Cymru group Cllr Colin Mann, who made the request, said the time had come to phase out use of the items in favour of sustainable materials.

“It is important that the council sets a lead in the county borough," he said.

"Many organisations are now setting target dates for ending single use plastic food and drinks containers and that’s what I want the authority to do.

“But action can be taken in the meantime. Do we need to buy 14,000 plastic cups for the water dispensers at Ty Penallta? Surely staff can be asked to bring their own reusable cups.

“I also notice that we are ordering thousands of plastic straws, but only last month it was announced that Transcend Packaging was moving into a council industrial unit on Dyffryn Business Estate in Ystrad Mynach and would be producing biodegradable paper straws for McDonald's.

“With such a firm on our doorstep, surely we should also be ordering biodegradable straws for schools rather than plastic ones. And we need to look into whether the firm can help replace any other single-used plastic food or drink items.”

The council's cabinet member neighbourhood services Cllr Nigel George said: “The plastic cups currently being used are recycled under the ‘save the cup’ scheme, and are used to produce items such as pencils and coat hangers.

"That said, we’ve acknowledged that we can do even more, and over a number of months, have established an enhanced recycling initiative within Penallta House, which includes encouraging colleagues to think and act with sustainability in mind even more. Penallta House is currently the trial site, with a view to extending across other sites in the near future.”