Non-recyclable and Non-compostable Packaging — [Mr Peter Bone in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:30 pm on 23rd January 2017.

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Photo of David Mackintosh David Mackintosh Conservative, Northampton South 4:30 pm, 23rd January 2017

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his intervention. I agree that the difference between levels of recycling under different local authorities across the country is shocking. It makes it hard for people to understand the regimes involved, and it lets off the hook those retailers or producers that say they do not have to conform because some local authorities do not conform.

I know from my experience as the leader of a local authority that councils are committed to increasing recycling and are already under huge pressure to reduce landfill. As the hon. Gentleman said, recycling does vary across the country. Recycling policy is set at local government level, and there are a number of legal and financial obligations that make it central to the policies of all councils. Will the Minister pledge, when she sums up later, to raise the matter with Ministers in the Department for Communities and Local Government so that we can look at the issue right across Government?

Inconsistency in the types of materials that can be recycled by councils is clearly an issue. If that was resolved, it would give greater clarity to the manufacturers and to those local residents who wish to recycle more. When I raised the matter over the weekend on my social media pages with my constituents, I was pleased by the level of support people gave to doing more to recycle and to looking at how we can ban non-compostable and non-recyclable waste in the future. In fact, a Twitter poll that I carried out showed 80% in favour of banning those materials.

The main issue is one of infrastructure and cost. It may be that proper analysis of how individual councils recycle across the whole of the UK would provide valuable information that could help to identify the best and worst performing areas and inform the Government of possible solutions. There has to be a reasonable balance between reducing the use of non-recyclable and non-compostable packaging to an absolute minimum for the benefit of our environment and still allowing manufacturers to adequately package their goods to prevent damage and spoiling, and to keep costs down.

As well as reducing landfill, the petition talks about non-recyclable and non-compostable rubbish that ends up in waterways. As we have already heard, that can include our oceans. As an MP with both the River Nene and the Grand Union canal running through my constituency in Northampton, I often see the awful situation in which waste is dumped into waterways. Keeping them tidy and clearing them up involves huge difficulty and cost.