Green Christmas

Environment and Rural Development – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 7th December 2006.

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Photo of Mike Pringle Mike Pringle Liberal Democrat 2:15 pm, 7th December 2006

To ask the Scottish Executive how it is encouraging people to have a green Christmas. (S2O-11366)

Photo of Ross Finnie Ross Finnie Liberal Democrat

The Scottish Executive supports the waste aware Scotland campaign, which provides a range of tips through its website—www.wasteawarescotland.org.uk—for a greener Christmas. Those include using wrapping materials that have been manufactured from recyclates, re-using wrapping paper and decorations, using rechargeable batteries instead of disposable ones, and recycling cards and Christmas trees. Practical support and facilities are provided through local authorities' recycling facilities—many of which make special arrangements for handling Christmas trees—and other Executive-supported initiatives, such as the Woodland Trust's annual Christmas card recycling scheme.

Photo of Mike Pringle Mike Pringle Liberal Democrat

I congratulate the Scottish Executive on the green Christmas tips that are on its website. Does the minister agree that the major problem at the moment is excessive packaging, which is particularly evident at Christmas? What discussions are taking place with retailers throughout Scotland to reduce the level of packaging, not only at this time of year but throughout the year?

Photo of Ross Finnie Ross Finnie Liberal Democrat

There is continuing dialogue between retailers and the Waste and Resources Action Programme. WRAP—it is aptly named—is sponsored by the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. It has a continuing programme to reduce retailers' packaging, but I regret to say that, although the volume has been reduced, retailers have not necessarily been successful in reducing the total number of layers. In a number of programmes, the thickness of the films that are used has been reduced drastically, but I continue to press retailers to reduce the layers of wrapping that they use.

Photo of Eleanor Scott Eleanor Scott Green

Does the minister agree that a green Christmas is just the start of a green future? Does he also agree that the greenest Christmas present that anybody could receive this year is membership of the Scottish Green Party? It might be particularly suitable for disillusioned Liberal Democrats who are disappointed at unsustainable decisions, for example on the M74 extension, that have been made by some Liberal Democrat ministers.

Photo of Ross Finnie Ross Finnie Liberal Democrat

I am not sure that I need to join the Scottish Green Party, but we could exchange Christmas gifts. That might include my sending Eleanor Scott the works of John Locke, a well-known Liberal Democrat philosopher who was perhaps the first to make clear as a political philosophy that we in public office and those who are elected hold our office in trust and do so to hand on to the next generation the best possible conditions. I would be happy to exchange Christmas gifts, but it is unlikely that I would sign an application for the Green party.