Plastics Recycling

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 6:29 pm on 23rd April 2019.

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Photo of Vincent Cable Vincent Cable Leader of the Liberal Democrats 6:29 pm, 23rd April 2019

I am sure that the Minister will have an answer to that, since the Government are consulting at the moment. There is a whole variety of creative initiatives one could explore, such as installing water fountains or just encouraging people to fill their bottles with tap water, but it requires a change of culture as well as an economic levy.

In considering the issues, the Government have a following wind in public opinion. A very good survey by YouGov last week suggested that about 80% of the public are comfortable with the idea of an extra charge on plastic bottles, around 70% are comfortable with the idea of extending the plastic bag tax, and a large majority are willing to pay something like £2 a week more on £100-worth of groceries. For many hard-pressed households, that is not an inconsiderable sum, and one has to be sensitive to issues of family poverty. However, the majority of public opinion seems to be reconciled to the idea that to reduce plastic usage, there will have to be additional charges.

In conclusion, let me point out that the Government have a rather modest long-term objective of working towards eliminating unnecessary plastic use—I think that is the phrase they use—by 2042. In that year, I will be waiting for my 100th birthday card from Buckingham Palace. I suggest that if that objective were brought forward to, say, 2025, we would be dealing with a more realistic timescale. I look forward to hearing what colleagues have to say.