MPs debate call for ban on non-recyclable packaging

Plastic on beachImage copyright Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

MPs are debating a petition urging the government to ban the use of all non-recyclable and unsustainable food packaging.

It comes after the petition received 247,048 signatures from the public in just six months.

Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge and a member of The Petitions Committee, will open the debate.

The government said it had a strategy “to eliminate avoidable plastic waste” and was also working with industry.

It is estimated the UK uses five million tonnes of plastic every year – nearly half of which is packaging – and demand is rising.

The petition lists just some of the packaging it would like to see abolished, including cereal box inner bags, plastic fruit and vegetable packets, crisp packets, sweets wrappers and Styrofoam.

It states: “Today the Earth is at a crisis point due to our plastic consumption, and as a result, people in the UK are more willing than ever to engage in recycling.

“So much food packaging remains completely, frustratingly unrecyclable. Let’s aim for the UK to lead the world with a 100% recycling rate.”

Plastic waste often does not decompose and can last for centuries in landfill. Other items end up as litter in the natural environment, which in turn can pollute soils, rivers and oceans, and harm the creatures that inhabit them.

In response, the government said its Resources and Waste Strategy for England, published in December, sets out plans to reduce plastic pollution and move towards a more circular economy.

It builds on commitments made in the 25-Year Environment Plan to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste.

It continued: “We have consulted on proposals to incentivise producers to make more sustainable packaging design choices and recyclable packaging.”

Plastic tax

In a bid to limit ocean pollution, the government will introduce new controls on single use plastic items in England by April 2020.

The measures cover plastic straws, plastic drinks stirrers and plastic cotton buds.

Earlier this year, Chancellor Philip Hammond also asked for views on the potential benefits of a plastics tax.

Takeaway boxes, disposable cups, plastic wrap and cigarette filters are some of the items he is consulting on.

The idea is that putting tax on single-use plastics would help drive behavioural change, and stop plastic littering streets, countryside and coastline.

Other countries including Canada and Ireland have already promised to take tougher action.

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