Environmental Protection

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:55 pm on 15th June 2020.

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Photo of Lloyd Russell-Moyle Lloyd Russell-Moyle Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 6:55 pm, 15th June 2020

I totally agree, and we both will have been on beach clean-ups and seen the awful amount of rubbish that is either left there or has washed up.

With the work of nature documentaries such as “The Blue Planet”, and environmental organisations such as Friends of the Earth, Keep Britain Tidy, Surfers Against Sewage and others, the public mood has shifted dramatically on plastics. I remember in 2002 at the world summit on sustainable development our talking about not being able to garner public support for action on plastics. How things have changed, and that is to be celebrated. That is why, of course, the Government have been able to pledge, in their 25-year environment plan, to eliminate avoidable plastics by 2040. Will the Minister set interim targets for this plan and will she bring forward further plans to demonstrate how she will achieve the overall target? Without milestones, there is a danger that we will not realise that we are off course before it is too late.

I would like to hear from the Minister what assessment her Department has made on the impact of covid on the use of plastics. Companies such as Just Eat and Deliveroo are reporting huge increases in sales. I have seen restaurants that were no longer using plastics but have returned to plastic items. While of course we recognise that there is a public health emergency, we need to do all we can to lower transmissions while ensuring that businesses have confidence in their knowledge about the risks of items, but let us return to the age-old—centuries-old—idea of a washable spoon, rather than a paper, plastic or wooden stirrer. It does not seem beyond the wit of man to return to something that we have used for a very long time—