Plastic Waste

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons on 22nd April 2021.

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Photo of Jacob Young Jacob Young Conservative, Redcar

What steps he is taking to tackle plastic waste.

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

We are committed to tackling plastic pollution. We have introduced a ban, with a few very specific exemptions, on the supply of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds, and reduced single-use plastic carrier bag usage by 95% in the main supermarkets through the 5p charge. This is a great day, and I am pleased my hon. Friend has chosen to raise this subject today, because we are debating increasing the charge to 10p and extending it to all retailers, and we are seeking powers in the Environment Bill to charge for single-use plastic items, making recycling more consistent.

Photo of Jacob Young Jacob Young Conservative, Redcar

Plastic waste is a huge problem in coastal communities such as mine, but does the Minister agree that it is not that plastic is the problem but that waste is the problem and we should do all we can to tackle waste? To that end, will she come to Redcar and Cleveland, when restrictions allow, to visit the new site for ReNew ELP at Wilton, which began construction last month and where revolutionary hydrothermal technology will be used to turn hard-to-recycle plastics back into their component oils, allowing them to be reused?

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

There is another doughty spokesman for his constituency. My hon. Friend has spoken to me about this matter before. It is vital that we tackle plastic waste by taking a holistic approach, which includes increasing reuse and recycling, in line with our ambition to transition to a more circular economy. More work is required to understand where chemical recycling represents the best outcome for waste and to assess any unintended consequences, but I welcome the invitation and the chance to visit the ReNew ELP site. He should contact my office, and, when time permits, I would be delighted to visit.

Photo of Ruth Jones Ruth Jones Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

It is good to be here in the Chamber and see you face to face today, Mr Speaker.

The Joint Unit for Waste Crime is an important component of the fight against waste, fly-tipping and littering. The Peterstone Wentlooge area of Newport West is a good example of an area in dire need of action from this unit, as the “road to nowhere” there, as it is known, is blighted by fly-tipping, including of noxious substances and chemicals. Clean-up costs for more than 1 million fly-tips cost the taxpayer £58 million in 2017-18, the last time the Department published details of clean-up costs. This Government have pushed councils to the brink and removed the funding needed to tackle fly-tipping, so will the Minister tell the House when this Government will finally take the action needed to protect this green and pleasant land?

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I thank the hon. Lady for her question and I am sorry to hear about that road to nowhere. I would hate my constituency to be described as the “road to nowhere”. I understand what she is getting at, but this Government are tackling litter. We have a whole policy on tackling litter and I have been meeting Keep Britain Tidy regularly to discuss what more we can do. We have had a lot of campaigns, including “Keep it, Bin it”, which has been extremely effective, and we will be working further on measures. We relaunched the countryside code and added to it during lockdown to cut down on the amount of litter that is dumped, and this has had a significant effect. Local authorities have all of their measures that they can put in place—they can take people to court and people can get hefty fines—but they need to take action with the measures at hand.