A COUNCIL has been urged to show more ambition in cutting the amount of household rubbish generated ahead of a Tees-wide waste strategy for the next 15 years being adopted.

Darlington Borough Council’s Liberal Democrat group leader Councillor Anne-Marie Curry has called for the authority to facilitate a campaign to press businesses to change the way some products are supplied.

She has issued the call before a meeting of the authority’s Cabinet, where the Joint Waste Management Strategy for Tees Valley for 2020 to 2035 looks set to be approved by the council.

The strategy sets out how the five councils will work to cut the amount of waste produced, to recycle as much material as possible and find the most sustainable solution to deal with any waste that remains.

A report to Cabinet members states a public consultation exercise over the strategy saw a call for “more solid initiatives” to reduce waste generation. One respondent to the consultation wrote: “Ideally, I would like to see a reduction of all packaging in shops. Currently Darlington has no bulk buying shops, where residents could go to pick up dry groceries such as pasta and rice in reusable containers, eliminating the need for plastic bags.”

Other suggested initiatives included encouraging retailers in the borough to stop selling tetrapak drinks as they were no longer being recycled and removing single use plastic cups from water coolers.

Cllr Curry said schemes such as taking reusable containers to shops would require “a massive education programme” for residents as traders would need to feel confident there was a demand. She added the council was best placed to coordinate schemes such as the lobbying of manufacturers to change packaging.

Cllr Curry said: “Why can’t we be more ambitious? Education is key. If the council can work with businesses then we can start to make a difference. Food producers as well as shops need to be making changes. For example, why can’t all pasta come in boxes as lasagne sheets do?”

She also said recycling rates were being hit by the council charging for replacement recycling boxes, which were not a priority for those on low incomes.

A council spokesman said through the new strategy, the authority would be working with the Tees Valley authorities on the waste reduction agenda, working closely with residents and businesses. He said: “The council is working within its own premises to reduce single use plastics and will look at further opportunities to reduce waste and increase recycling.”