ALL Council-owned cafes will soon be totally free of plastic drinking straws.

North Ayrshire Council has made the commitment as the Final Straw campaign gathers pace across the country.

As well as cafes, 500,000 straws from milk cartons and fruit juice cartons have been removed from schools across the region.

It’s all part of the Council’s ongoing drive to protect the environment and make North Ayrshire cleaner and greener for residents.

The Final Straw campaign was set up by Katie Forbes MSP and she is calling for businesses and organisations to stop using them and, ultimately, for the Scottish Government to ban them.

It is estimated around three billion plastic straws are thrown away each year in Scotland, proving a “significant pollutant” in the seas and a risk to wildlife.

During a clean-up organised by the Marine Conservation Society last year, an average of 138 pieces of food and drinkrelated waste were found on every 100m of UK beaches.

Elma Murray, Chief Executive of North Ayrshire Council, said: “We are totally committed to reducing waste across North Ayrshire and fully supportive of the Final Straw campaign.

“We have already taken some huge steps and this year alone have removed 500,000 straws from milk cartons and fruit juice cartons at our schools. By March 31, none of our cafes will be using plastic straws."

The Council expect all their cafes and other facilities to stop using plastic straws by March 31 - and hope local business and organisations will soon follow their lead.

Kate Forbes MSP said: “With so many priorities facing local authorities, I’m really grateful to North Ayrshire Council for committing to reduce their use of plastic straws.

“There is a very serious challenge facing all of us in terms of plastic litter.

“Plastic straws are one of the worst culprits and the crazy thing is that most of us don’t even need them.”