MPS URGED TO GET THEIR HOUSE IN ORDER IN THE WAR ON PLASTICS
Environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) launched a new campaign calling for a Plastic Free Parliament, urging MPs to lead by example in the war on plastic.
An investigation by SAS has uncovered that over 2 million avoidable single-use plastic items were purchased by the House of Commons and House of Lords in 2017. Plastic straws and stirrers, coffee cups and lids, condiment sachets, plastic cutlery and disposable plastic water bottles are all still used in large quantities across the Palace of Westminster estate, all of which can be eliminated or replaced by more sustainable and reusable options.
The Prime Minister recently launched the government’s 25-year environmental plan with a headline focus on tackling plastic waste. The Plastic Free Parliament campaign is now calling on the public to contact MPs to support the war on plastic and reduce the avoidable plastic footprint via a new website www.plasticfreeparliament.co.uk. Eliminating avoidable plastics and showcasing the procurement and use of ‘plastic-free’ alternatives can set an example for individuals, communities and businesses as society decouples from its single-use plastic addiction.
Of particular concern to Surfers Against Sewage is the number of single use coffee cups purchased across the estate, with over a combined 1 million cups and lids purchased in 2017. A recent study found that 500 reusable or so-called “keep cups” were purchased in 2013, but only four of these environmentally-friendly alternatives had been sold up to November 2017. The charity said that an immediate ‘Latte Levy’ on disposables and encouraging MPs to bring their own reusable cup when buying drinks could help drive a reduction in this avoidable plastic product.
Surfers Against Sewage is also urging behaviour change from Members, starting with a personal pledge to stop using single-use plastic water bottles and use refillable bottles instead. SAS and campaign partners #OneLess are calling on Parliament to review their water infrastructure and ensure free reliable water points are located within easy access locations throughout Parliamentary buildings to encourage refilling water bottles and reduce the need for single-use bottles.
The Palace of Westminster has already made some steps to reduce avoidable single-use plastics; however, Surfers Against Sewage believes that more must now be done. Parliament has an Annual Environmental Improvement Plan which drives continual environmental improvement. Waste and Recycling is an important feature of this plan with the aim to recycle 75% of waste by 2020/21 and ensure no waste is sent to landfill. The Plastic Free Parliament campaign aims to dramatically help achieve this target and go further by eliminating the need for recycling.
Kerry McCarthy MP said “The recent series of Blue Planet II has brought to public attention the serious damage plastic is causing to our marine life and habitats. Pressure is rightly growing on all of us to take action to reduce our plastic footprint.
“It is time for Parliament to not only get its own house in order, but take a lead on ambitious action to end its use of throwaway plastic”.