Plastic Waste

27th June 2019

This week in Parliament, St Albans MP Anne Main has continued her campaign against plastic waste. Mrs Main, who chairs the cross-party group on preventing plastic waste, spoke up about the importance of changing consumer mindsets about single-use plastics, the importance of using sustainable and natural replacements and the ‘plastic soup’ of microplastics that are now in our oceans.

Mrs Main’s speech was during the e-petition debate on unsustainable packaging. E-petition debates are triggered after 100,000 people sign in support.

“St Albans cares deeply about environmental issues and I am grateful to the 464 people from St Albans who signed the petition” Anne said.

“As a society, we cannot turn back the clock.” said Mrs Main. “What we need is to minimise waste from plastic by reusing it wherever we can and ensuring that [we don’t have] a throwaway, disposable commodity.”

Anne continued, “We do not want to increase food waste or the number of heavy bottles being transported around the country; we need to decide whether we actually need that packaging, rather than replacing it with something in a different form that might be just as damaging.”

Mrs Main highlighted the issues recycling facilities have with mixed plastic and cardboard packing, such as sandwich packets and Pringles tubes. Anne also attacked the ‘throwaway society’ of people buying cheap clothing and disposing of them after only one or two uses.

In her closing remarks, Anne said:

“Our contact with plastic is huge and in the future people will ask why on earth we did not realise quite how injurious this was, not only to the environment but to those people and animals and plants in the environment that suffer as a result of plastic toxicity. We should not just be picking up our plastic waste, but cutting off the stream.”

This week also saw Anne chair another meeting of her cross-party group in Parliament on the prevention of plastic waste. Mrs Main invited Starbucks to come in and set out what action they are taking to change customer behaviour and reduce the amount of plastic waste disposed of by their customers and staff.

Starbucks explained that they are investing in new technologies that will make the lining in their coffee cups much easier to break down and therefore easier to recycle. They have teamed up with other coffee chains and restaurants, such as McDonalds, to increase their chances of finding a solution. Starbucks are also planning on eliminating plastic straws in their stores next year and have already introduced 5p charges for using paper cups in their stores.

Following the meeting, Anne said:

“One of the main reasons why we brought Starbucks in to meet the APPG is that they are clearly trying to tackle this problem head on. They admit themselves that introducing 5p charges on paper cups and offering 25p discounts to customers with reusable coffee cups was a bold strategy at the time, but it has paid off.

“The UK’s coffee culture continues to grow and that means thousands more takeaway coffee cups going into landfill every day. Starbucks, by combining with other coffee shops, can make a real difference in how much of that goes to waste. If they can change the way their customers think about throwaway cups and encourage us all to use more reusable containers then that is a good thing.

“They told me that in just two years, we have gone from 1 in 400 coffee cups being recycled to 1 in 25. That’s a major achievement but we all know there is more to be done.”

Anne Main MP with members of the APPG at the Starbucks meeting
Anne Main speaking in Westminster Hall

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