Thank you to all the constituents who have contacted me on the issue of plastic waste I received well over 100 campaign emails on this, so it is clearly something many of you feel strongly about.
My Labour colleagues and I share your concerns, and think it is scandalous that the UK’s plastic waste rate is second only to the United States.
I believe we must get serious about plastic pollution and we need a relentless programme to remove single-use plastics from our economy.
The Government pledged in 2019 to ban exports of plastic waste to developing countries. It says it plans to launch a consultation on this subject before the end of 2022 and on tougher controls on waste exports and mandatory electronic tracking in the autumn.
I am concerned it is not acting quickly enough as we cannot keep shipping our problem away. People expect to see these exports banned, more recycling taking place at home and faster action on the climate crisis.
I support an all-in deposit return scheme (DRS) for drinks containers of all sizes and materials. They achieve the best recycling return and are the clearest system for the public to use. Without buy-in from the public, I believe we are unlikely to achieve the sort of change and progress that our planet desperately needs. I further believe that an all-in scheme is the most likely to offer opportunities for scaling up to a refill system in future.
The Government held a consultation in 2019 and stated that it was minded to introduce a DRS from 2023. It recently held another consultation, which closed on 4 June 2021, to explore continued appetite for a scheme and now states that the introduction of a DRS would be in late 2024 at the earliest. I share concerns about persistent delays on this and believe that the public would like to see this introduced more quickly.
At the same time, the Government consulted on Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging and states that its proposal is for the first phase to be established in 2023.
I supported Opposition amendments to the Environment Bill to permit potential charges on any single-use material, not just plastic. I am concerned that focusing only on plastics risks shifting the environmental burden, as the deeper problem lies with the single-use, throwaway culture. Unfortunately, this amendment was voted down, but the Opposition will continue to raise these important points throughout the remainder of the Bill’s parliamentary journey.
Thank you once again for contacting me about this issue. I can assure you I will continue to call for urgent action.