MONMOUTHSHIRE council’s aspirations to become a “plastic-free” county have been questioned after it was claimed the authority is prepared to issue up to four million plastic bags per year for food waste.

The council passed a motion pledging to work towards reducing the use of single-use plastics in the county earlier this year.

But at a full meeting of the council on Thursday, Cllr Tony Easson (Labour, Dewstow ward) questioned a policy on using bags to recycle food waste.

The meeting heard that the company responsible for the disposal of Monmouthshire, Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent’s food waste has asked if they wish to use plastic bags instead of compostable ones.

Cllr Easson asked: “How therefore can we at Monmouthshire County Council stand four-square with our residents who support our recent decision to aim to create a plastic free Monmouthshire when we clearly seem to be prepared to issue and use up to four million plastic bags per year to support this enterprise?”

But Frances Williams, the council’s chief officer for enterprise, said the contractor is currently able to collect the material in food waste bags.

Ms Williams added: “The contractor has approached the procurement partnership to ask whether the three local authorities that are using the facility wish to collect the material in plastic bags.”

She said the reason for this was that the eco-friendly bags currently have to be separated from the food waste and are then sent for incineration.

“What the contractor has said to the three local authorities is you could provide plastic bags instead because they will do exactly the same, whatever bag you provide we will rip them off and they will go for incineration,” Ms Williams told the meeting.

“It’s not that the contractor will not take them, they will.

“They are just saying look it’s actually cheaper for you to provide these bags as plastic bags.”

Cllr Easson said he wanted the matter to be brought back before the council’s scrutiny committee to examine the policy.

Earlier this year Monmouthshire council pledged to work towards becoming a "plastic free" county, in line with the Plastic Free Coastline campaign run by Surfers Against Sewage.

As part of the pledge, the council resolved to review its own use of single-use plastics and take steps to identify unnecessary plastic use and reduce this.

It also agreed to support community action and work with schools and businesses to help reduce plastic use.