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Plastics: Waste Disposal

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 19th October 2018.

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Photo of Rosena Allin-Khan Rosena Allin-Khan Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) (Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the merits of biodegradable cutlery in reducing the use of single-use plastic; and what steps his Department is taking to promote and increase the use of such cutlery.

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Government has committed in its 25 Year Environment Plan to eliminating all avoidable plastic waste, further details of which will be set in our upcoming Resources and Waste Strategy

The Government is aware of the interest in biodegradable and compostable materials. While such materials may be seen as a solution to reduce the impact of waste, they can also be more environmentally damaging than non-biodegradable materials if disposed of incorrectly. The Government published a report in 2015 which concluded that existing biodegradable standards are only applicable to very specific conditions, such as industrial composters.

The Government is concerned that, in the absence of standards, claims about the biodegradability of plastic-based products cannot be verified leading to potential confusion in the marketplace, possible increased levels of consumption and potential environmental harm at the point of disposal. As part of our forthcoming UK Bioeconomy Strategy we will work with industry to seek evidence on the demand, benefits and implications of a standard for bio-based and biodegradable plastics.

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