Single Use Plastics


The last few months have seen the important issue of single use plastics become a topic of national debate.

I am aware of the recent investigation by Surfers against Sewage which revealed that last year over two million single-use plastic items such as disposable coffee cups and plastic cutlery were used across the Parliamentary estate, which could be replaced with more sustainable alternatives.

I believe that our throwaway culture must be challenged and we need to be much tougher on reducing and, where possible, eliminating the use of plastics. We are in the habit of using low-cost, consumable plastics which may offer small conveniences at the time, but all add up to a detrimental impact on our communities and environment.

The House of Commons Administration Committee will conduct a review in March into the sustainability and environmental management of single-use disposable plastics, including the use of single-use plastic cutlery, straws, coffee cups and lids, and other plastic items used on the parliamentary estate. The House of Lords is also trialling the removal of drinking straws from its bars and restaurants, and looking into providing fully biodegradable and paper alternatives.

In the UK, we currently recycle around 40 per cent of the plastic packaging we use, but it is clear we can go much further. I am concerned by recent reports that the Government opposed ambitious recycling targets proposed by the EU, which does not bode well for its ability to get the UK back on track with recycling.

I am further concerned by the Government's commitment to end all avoidable plastic waste by 2042. Twenty-five years is far too long to tackle Britain's plastic waste crisis, the Government must act now.

Of course, companies like Vegware in my constituency have been pioneering in this field. Since 2006 they have been producing world class compostable food packaging.