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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:56 pm on 12th November 2018.

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Photo of Tulip Siddiq Tulip Siddiq Labour, Hampstead and Kilburn 4:56 pm, 12th November 2018

I thank Steve Double for his speech. He expressed many of the sentiments that I was hoping to express, but there is always repetition in debates. I am glad we all agree that we need to reduce the amount of plastic used in supermarkets.

As the hon. Gentleman said, the world has manufactured more plastic in the past decade than in the whole of the previous century. That is a startling fact. In 2015 alone, 292 million tonnes of plastic was produced, and that figure is expected to double by 2025. An estimated 12.7 million tonnes ends up in our oceans each year. Even more startlingly, that figure is expected to triple.

As the hon. Gentleman said, plastic never degrades completely, and it becomes part of our water supply. The UK’s tap water is now 72% contaminated with plastics. The public are more aware than ever of the problem, which is why this petition is so important. People are rightly demanding action.

Some 82% of people in the UK are worried about the impact of plastic pollution in our oceans. My constituents in Hampstead and Kilburn share those concerns and relate them to me daily. They do not want future generations to grow up in a world in which there is more plastic in the ocean than fish.

Last week, I was proud to hear that Belsize Budgens in my constituency has shown serious leadership and announced dramatic cuts to its plastic packaging, at no extra cost to its consumers. I hope other supermarkets around the country will follow suit. I am pleased that the two borough councils in my constituency take recycling, which is obviously linked to the amount of plastic we use, very seriously. Camden Council has committed to boosting its recycling rates to 40% by 2020, and its recycling reward scheme, run in partnership with Local Green Points, has been shortlisted for two national recycling awards. Brent Council, which is also in my constituency, recycles 36% of its waste and is in the top half of London boroughs for recycling.

We should applaud that good news, but recycling is only part of the solution, as several hon. Members said.