I was in the House of Lords’ Chamber this afternoon to ask the Government Minister about recycling and waste disposal. It was reassuring that Peers from across the parties were calling on the Government to simplify recycling schemes across the country. Recycling rates vary massively between local authority areas, and in recent years recycling has been falling in England. It’s essential that we take what is working from the highest performing areas and bring all local authorities up to this standard. Recycling should be easy and accessible for everyone.
Unfortunately, the Minister didn’t back my calls for the Government to require incineration of waste to be an absolute “last resort”. Incinerators are something that I and many campaigners have been fighting against for a long time. I think that the rise in incineration has had a negative impact on recycling rates, along with health and air quality issues. We really shouldn’t be burning waste which ought to be recycled, composted or bio-digested. I will continue to raise this in Parliament.
Finally, I was glad to hear the Minister say that the Government is seriously considering the case for putting deposits on plastic bottles. The 5p plastic bag charge is a great example of what a massive difference even a small surcharge can make to help make people’s lives greener. Just 5p on each bag has reduced plastic waste by over two billion bags each year. Bringing reusable bags to the shops is no longer a rare oddity of greenies like me – it’s now gone mainstream! I’ll be pressuring the Government to use these types of policy levers so that we can reduce unnecessary waste and encourage the ecologically sound alternatives.