WESTMINSTER DIARY: By Dame Caroline Spelman MP - The Solihull Observer

WESTMINSTER DIARY: By Dame Caroline Spelman MP

Solihull Editorial 2nd Feb, 2018   0

WESTMINSTER DIARY

Many readers will have seen the shocking footage captured by BBC filmmakers as part of the David Attenborough series, Blue Planet 2, which exposed the damaging impact of plastic pollution in our oceans.

When I look at everyday life, it is literally littered with plastic. We have all seen the common sight of discarded plastic bottles, crisp packets and takeaway wrappers and the blight that it causes in our community when it is left alongside our pavements, roads and railways.

In 2012, whilst serving as the environment secretary, I did try to ban single use plastic carrier bags, and am pleased that progress has since been made through the 5p carrier bag charge. This measure has reduced the number of plastic bags being used by over 80 per cent to date and since then, the government has also taken action to ban harmful microbeads which were washing up in our rivers and oceans, harming our wildlife.




I recently wrote to the minister to urge him to work closely with manufacturers for whom there is no obvious alternative to plastic, such as toothpaste and other cosmetics brands, so that we may encourage them to look at other alternatives to plastic packaging. But as we look to the future, it is clear that more must be done to address the issue of plastic pollution. To help achieve this the government recently published a ‘25 year plan for the Environment’.

Through this new strategy; which includes measures to boost wildlife habitat, create a new national forest in the north of England and protect precious marine habitats, we are ensuring that supermarket aisle will be free from plastics – something which both Waitrose and Iceland have already pledged to achieve by 2023.


In the interim time, I am pleased that some of my colleagues have launched a campaign called ‘giving up plastic for Lent’, which encourages people to try to cut down on our usage – particularly of more harmful types of single use plastics such as carrier bags and food packaging.

This is a great campaign that we can all take part in. Even the simplest of actions such as refilling our water bottle or reusable coffee cup, avoiding plastic wrapped sandwiches, and buying loose fruit and veg makes a difference and I hope that many readers will join me and take part.

Dame Caroline Spelman MP

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