Plastic Pollution

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons on 25th July 2019.

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Photo of Vicky Ford Vicky Ford Conservative, Chelmsford

What steps she is taking to tackle plastic pollution.

Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess Conservative, Southend West

What steps she is taking to tackle plastic pollution.

Hon. Members::

Hear, hear.

Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Thank you. It is good to be back at this Dispatch Box.

Our priority is preventing plastic waste from entering the environment in the first instance. The resources and waste strategy sets out our plans to eliminate avoidable plastic waste, including measures to tackle certain single-use plastic items. This week we published Government responses to consultations on measures that include making recycling easier and ensuring that producers pay the full cost of managing their packaging waste responsibly.

Photo of Vicky Ford Vicky Ford Conservative, Chelmsford

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on her new role.

Pupils from Kings Road Primary School and the Bishops’ Primary School in Chelmsford want to do more to reduce single-use plastic. I have obviously given them copies of “Vicky’s Guide to Going Green”, but what top tips would my right hon. Friend like to share?

Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

There are many top tips in our 25-year environment plan, and I commend my predecessor, my right hon. Friend Michael Gove, for his world-leading work on this matter. A key message to get across to all the schoolchildren around the country who want to take part in tackling plastic waste is: don’t drop litter.

Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess Conservative, Southend West

I also congratulate my right hon. Friend on her appointment. Will she join me in congratulating the students from the National Citizen Service I met at Roots Hall in Southend on Monday, who, inspired by David Attenborough, are right at this very minute picking out plastic from our beautiful coastline in Southend?

Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I thank my hon. Friend for his question. Both these questions illustrate that there is a real attitude out there among the public that they want to be part of resolving this urgent problem. The Government will continue to support organisations such as the National Citizen Service to engage young people and ensure that they are playing a part in the Government’s determination to address this problem because people are concerned about it.

Photo of Nick Smith Nick Smith Opposition Whip (Commons)

Nearly 40 million plastic bottles are used in the UK every day, but the Government’s bottle return scheme does not kick in for four years. Why so long?

Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

We have gone further than any other Government in history on tackling plastic waste. I acknowledge the concern felt about the matter that the hon. Gentleman has raised. We will always try to move as fast as we can to ensure that we are taking the most effective action possible, but we also need to take time to ensure that we get it right. I assure him that I will be working hard to ensure that this action is delivered as soon as possible.

Photo of Sandy Martin Sandy Martin Shadow Minister (Waste and Recycling)

I welcome the new Secretary of State to her place.

On 1 May, this House unanimously supported Labour’s declaration of an environment and climate emergency. The Center for International Environmental Law predicts that plastics will contribute to 13% of global carbon emissions by 2050 if no action is taken, yet the Government’s plans do not envisage that extended producer responsibility for packaging will come into force before 2023 or that a 75% recycling rate will be achieved before 2030. Does the Secretary of State accept that the emergency requires much faster action?

Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I look forward to working with the shadow Front Benchers on these issues. We have gone further and faster than the previous Labour Government with radical changes, including the plastic bag tax and our plans to ban plastic stirrers and other plastic products. We are a world-leading country on this issue, and we will continue to be so because we are determined to tackle the problem.