STRINGENT waste reduction targets have been adopted by council officials in Hartlepool in a bid to improve the environment.

They have pledged to cut their consumption of water, CO2 emissions and waste production by five per cent, by signing up to the government's MACC2 initiative.

A range of resource-saving measures have already been introduced at Hartlepool Borough Council premises, including Stranton Nursery.

Rainwater is collected in large tanks at the nursery and then re-used to irrigate plants.

The amount of mains water used has been further reduced with the installation of a trickle irrigation system.

The nursery also has thermal blinds in its glasshouses to reduce heat loss and the boilers are of the latest and most efficient design.

All of the plastic pots and trays used at the nursery are recycled and there is an increasing use of peat-reduced compost.

Other waste reduction schemes introduced by the council include recycling bins in all offices, timer switches on some lights and the introduction of press-down percussion taps to reduce water usage.

There is also an awareness-raising programme to increase staff knowledge of environmental issues.

Mayor Stuart Drummond, who signed the MACC2 declaration, said: "We have set ourselves tough but achievable targets and we are determined to do our utmost to reach them by 2005/2006."