Amendment 119

Part of Environment Bill - Committee (4th Day) – in the House of Lords at 6:15 pm on 30th June 2021.

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Photo of Lord Teverson Lord Teverson Chair, EU Environment Sub-Committee, Chair, EU Environment Sub-Committee 6:15 pm, 30th June 2021

My Lords, I want to speak to my own Amendment 128, which goes back even further into the depths of this Bill to Schedule 6. It is a probing amendment in many ways, and very mild, just to tease out where the Government stand on this. Although, as the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch, said so well, this seems to be a very technical area, these issues are absolutely essential in making the future circular economy, and everything we want in terms of resource efficiency, actually to work and become public friendly—and the way that it faces the public becoming friendly as well.

It comes down to labels. We have had some mention of labels already, particularly from my noble friends Lady Scott and Lord Bradshaw. What I am trying to get at here is that there are provisions, rightly, for the Secretary of State to be able to make regulations about such things as labels on products, but what it does not do is suggest that there should be some consistency about that labelling so that we all find that interface useful, friendly and usable.

I am thinking of two other areas in particular. When I put the laundry into the washing machine at home, there is the occasional garment that I do not have a clue how it should be washed. So what do I do? I look at the label on the garment that has all those little symbols that tell me how I should wash this—at what temperature and all that sort of information. It might tell me not to wash it at all, but to dry-clean it instead. Over the years, I have got to know those symbols. Everybody else has: they are actually fairly international rather than national; I am not even asking for them to be international. Through that, we get to know what we should do.

I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, who mentioned electrical appliances. Whether it be a dishwasher or a dryer, they also have labels that give an energy efficiency rating. That has been so successful that we have had to reinvent or restate what the most efficient levels are, because people have got to know them and simply go for green rather than red.

This amendment is merely offering a suggestion to the Government. It would give the Secretary of State the power to ensure that labelling on goods in the system that will become part of the circular economy is consistent, so that everybody gets to understand the symbols and they are therefore effective. We should not have a wide range of different labels from different manufacturers, or different systems, which would confuse consumers. In labelling, we need consistency, good design and systems that have been tried and tested, and last. As, I think, my noble friend Lady Scott said, this will make sure that people who want to do right can achieve that.