Plastic Waste

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons on 28th April 2022.

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Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne Conservative, New Forest West

What steps he is taking to reduce plastic waste.

Photo of Jo Churchill Jo Churchill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

We have banned microbeads in rinse-off personal care products. We have restricted the supply of straws, stirrers and cotton buds. We have consulted on banning other single-use plastic items, including plates and cutlery. We have conducted a call for evidence on problematic plastic items, including wet wipes, tobacco filters and sachets, and we are reviewing that information. Our ambition is to maximise resource, minimise waste and reduce, reuse, recycle. All plastic packaging will be reusable or recyclable by 2025.

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne Conservative, New Forest West

Recycling plastics is energy and emission-intensive, so would we not be better to end the use of plastic bottles and concentrate on the deposit and return of glass ones?

Photo of Jo Churchill Jo Churchill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I thank my right hon. Friend for his question, but actually it is about the use of the appropriate material for the appropriate product. Plastic is a good product when used sensibly and when it can be recycled, and we often now see 100% recycled plastic. We are introducing a deposit return scheme for drinks containers so that consumers can easily recycle them. News of that and work on it will be coming forward shortly, to be delivered in 2025.

Photo of Chris Elmore Chris Elmore Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

I am sure the Minister will be aware that we are approaching Reusable Nappy Week, and I declare an interest as my 15-month-old son uses reusable nappies. What more can she do to encourage local authorities to have schemes that support new parents using reusable nappies? It has to be acknowledged that one of the biggest issues for landfill that has still not been dealt with is disposable nappies that have very limited ways of decomposing and cost huge amounts in terms of our carbon problems within the UK and around the world.

Photo of Jo Churchill Jo Churchill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on raising this issue. I have met companies that promote the use of reusable nappies. It is a great idea, and there are also schemes where people can rent and save money by doing so, and so on. All these things are well worth promoting, and I congratulate him on that. He is absolutely right that one of our biggest problems is trying to dispose of all those nappies. Making sure that they do not contaminate material that can be recycled is also hugely important, and all power to him.

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous The Second Church Estates Commissioner

Can the Minister also update the House on when we are likely to ban plastic wet wipes, which not only pollute the environment, but can cause sewage overflows?

Photo of Jo Churchill Jo Churchill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I am working with my hon. Friend Rebecca Pow on this, because the challenge in sewers is acute with the build-up of wet wipes. As I say, we have recently conducted a consultation. That consultation has now finished. We are now reviewing the results, and we will be bringing forward more information shortly.

Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health)

I thank the Minister for her response, and in that theme of positive strategy going forward, what discussions has she had with the Department of Health and Social Care about the packaging of medical supplies being more readily recyclable? The pandemic has clearly illustrated and highlighted the reliance on single-use plastic, and we must do everything we can to reduce that.

Photo of Jo Churchill Jo Churchill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

There are certain medical devices, where sterility and so on are important, where single-use plastic is the best product available, but I assure the hon. Gentleman that the team at the Department of Health and Social Care is working on making sure that products are not only more recyclable, but more reusable, because often it is about that repeatability.