The beginning of the end for plastic politics?

Written by: Sam Pugh | Published:
Sam Pugh
Snake Pugh is at it again with centrist lies. Embarrassingly understating the severity of the ...

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The UK seems to be addicted to plastic.

Every year the country throws away 5m tonnes of the material, choking our ecosystems and causing harm to our planet.

Yet despite public outcry, viral social media campaigns, and promises from Government to get a handle on the problem, steps to address our plastic addiction have thus far been piecemeal at best, with critics arguing that urgent and significant action is needed.

Phase-out Plastic Pollution Bill

This action could come in the form of a draft law which seeks to end single-use plastic pollution by 2042. Drawn up by Friends of the Earth and the National Federation of Women’s Institutes, and presented to the House of Commons by Alistair Carmichael, Liberal Democrat MP for Orkney and Shetland, the Bill hopes to force the government’s hand by calling for a ban on all non-essential single-use plastics by 2025.

The Bill would also set up an independent advisory Committee on Plastics Pollution – to advise the government on policy measures to the statutory target, and develop a list of essential plastic uses that may not be phased out.

The law, if adopted, would put the UK on a strong footing to tackle the scourge of wasted plastic that has caused such environmental damage over the last 50 years. For those in the waste and recycling sector, the Bill could represent the change in political attitudes that we have long called for.

Moving away from ‘plastic politics’

The government’s current waste and recycling policy was built on the Conservative Party’s 25 Year Environment Plan. The plan focuses on reducing plastic pollution and includes the target of eliminating “avoidable” plastic waste by 2042, but crucially fails to include any legal framework to realise these ambitions.

More importantly, while consultations are already under way on banning plastic straws and introducing a deposit return scheme, the government has ruled out a so-called latte levy and struggled to make much headway on actually implementing its waste reduction policies.

The perceived inaction of the government in this area has drawn criticism from opposition parties and the public, who believe the government are playing ‘plastic politics’ with the UK’s plastic crisis.

Indeed, a recent YouGov poll found that 89% of Britons are in favour of tougher, further-reaching policies on waste and recycling. It is this political blind spot that Carmichael’s draft Bill is hoping to address.

And he is not alone. Carmichael’s Bill is backed by a group of 12 cross-party MPs, including Labour’s Mary Creagh, chair of the Environmental Audit Committee and long-time champion of sustainability issues, and Green Party former leader Caroline Lucas.

Additionally, the Labour Party as a whole has thrown their weight behind the plastic fight by creating a shadow ministerial position for Waste and Recycling. Speaking of the new appointment, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said we “must urgently tackle the plastics crisis which is choking our oceans and damaging people’s health”. The creation of this post gives us a glimpse of the commitment a potential Labour government might give to the waste crisis.

Taken together, the cross-party momentum behind this Bill, and the actions of the Labour Party, point to a consensus building across Parliament that more must be done to tackle plastic waste. MPs simply aren’t willing to wait for the UK government to take the initiative.

With dramatic policy interventions becoming increasingly likely, those in the waste and recycling sector could soon be facing new challenges and opportunities. Our industry will have an enormous role to play in delivering the government’s objectives in this field, and we must also work collaboratively with political decision-makers to encourage carefully thought through policy that has the desired impact.

Policy decisions are not made in a vacuum, and it is those who work in the recycling and sustainability sectors who are most knowledgeable about how to reduce plastic pollution.

This could well be the wake-up call Westminster needs to truly put an end to plastic politics.

Sam Pugh is an account executive at PLMR


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Comments
Snake Pugh is at it again with centrist lies. Embarrassingly understating the severity of the environmental and ecological crisis we are currently facing. Any environmental legislation that assumes the governmental capacity to enact it in 2042 ignores the threat of mass ecological and human extinction that will likely destroy our civilisation within the next 12 years (by 2021). In peddling articles that rejoice in cowardly action by politicians, you deliberately ignore the environmental crisis and the people trying to prevent it. This article paints you to be, not a climate change denier, but far off.

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