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Environment Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:34 pm on 28th October 2019.

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Photo of Mark Pawsey Mark Pawsey Conservative, Rugby 9:34 pm, 28th October 2019

Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker; I shall be as brief as I can.

I welcome the provisions in the Environment Bill, and I particularly want to talk about the move towards a circular economy in which products and materials are reused and recycled. I will focus particularly on the provisions in respect of plastics, and I want to talk about them from a different perspective—that of someone who spent 25 years in the packaging industry and who is currently the chair of the all-party parliamentary group for the packaging manufacturing industry. The industry has not been oblivious to its responsibilities in protecting the environment, and that represents a sea change compared with the attitude that existed a few years ago. It is committed to measures to simplify the process and to investing in innovative sorting and recycling.

I want to talk briefly about the practical considerations relating to four of the Government’s proposals. On the extended producer responsibility, we must remember that in addition to our producers being responsible, consumers must be responsible. It is not businesses that put packaging in the wrong place and cause problems; it is individuals. We must consider that. In respect of taxing packaging products that do not contain at least 30% recycled content, we need to be careful with medical products, which are not allowed to contain recycled material. It is also worth noting that 85% of plastic packaging is being recycled anyway.

The deposit return scheme is an area of some concern, and I hope that Deidre Brock will recognise the benefit of a UK-wide system rather than wanting Scotland to go off on its own. Britvic in my constituency manufactures soft drinks, and it does not want to have to carry two sets of stock for two different markets. That would have an effect on consumers through prices. I also request the Minister to ensure that our home kerbside collection schemes are consistent across the UK, because the confusion between different authorities is restricting the amount that is being collected. There are many other points I would like to make, and I hope that I will have the opportunity to make some of them in Committee.