Plastic-free Packaging (Fruit and Vegetables) — [Mr David Hanson in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:30 pm on 12th November 2018.

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Photo of Steve Double Steve Double Conservative, St Austell and Newquay 4:30 pm, 12th November 2018

That is indeed a huge challenge, which needs to be addressed from all angles. As the hon. Gentleman said, there are great challenges, particularly for developed countries, to reduce the amount of plastic that is produced and in circulation. We also need to ensure that we dispose responsibly of any plastic that is produced and ensure that it is not contributing to the environmental pollution that we have seen for far too long. That challenge has to be addressed from a number of different angles; I do not think there will ever be one simple solution.

The amount of plastic entering our seas is now a matter of huge concern for many people. As is well documented, it is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans. That is of concern not only because of the damage it is doing to the marine environment, but because that pollution is being ingested by humans as we eat the fish from the sea. We should really take the issue seriously and seek to address it.

It is right to acknowledge the steps the Government have already taken in reducing the amount of plastic pollution. It is well documented that the 5p plastic bag charge, introduced by the previous Conservative-led Government, has dramatically reduced the amount of plastic bags in use: by 83%. About 9 billion fewer plastic bags have been used since the introduction of that simple 5p charge. The Government have brought forward a comprehensive 25-year plan for the environment, including measures to look at reducing plastic waste and disposing of waste more responsibly. That should be welcomed. I want to join the many environmental groups that are calling for an introduction of plastic-free aisles and products in our supermarkets.