HIGHLAND council has officially joined the war on plastic, promising to set an example as part of the global campaign to clean up our oceans.
It has set the ambitious target of its coast becoming "plastic free".
The council has pledged to reduce its use of plastic, to promote environmental awareness and to encourage people to make a point of picking up "three pieces of litter" when visiting a beach.
Two councillors have been the driving force – the SNP’s Liz MacDonald and the Conservatives’ Isabelle MacKenzie.
Cllr MacDonald endorsed her colleague’s proposal to ban the council’s use of single-use disposable cups but go much further. Citing Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet TV series, she said it brought home the damage caused to the marine environment by over-fishing and plastic pollution.
Cllr MacDonald said the Scottish Government led the way with the introduction of a 5p charge for plastic bags.
"The Scottish Government intends to be the first in the UK to ban plastic cotton buds and to ban plastic straws," she said.
The UK discards an estimated 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups a year and 500,000 cups are "littered every day", according to Cllr MacKenzie, whose motion also gained support at last week’s full council meeting.
Cllr MacKenzie said: "We need to help develop specialist recyclers and ensure that nothing goes to landfill."
In Durness and Skye people have already signed up to "plastic-free beaches" by joining the campaign group Surfers Against Sewage. New group Nairn Eco aims to further the cause. A Nairn beaches clean-up is planned from 10am to noon next Friday.
SNP councillor Maxine Smith praised East Ross residents for doing similar beach initiatives several times a year.