I attended a parliamentary event to support Asda’s campaign against plastic use. This was an opportunity for MPs to meet with Asda staff to hear what action the company has been doing to reduce the amount of plastic packaging used in their products and what more MPs can do to help.
At the event I was told how Asda has reduced its plastic waste by 3,100 tonnes. This has been achieved by reducing the plastic used in items such as water bottles, pizza, salad to go boxes and greetings cards.
Other businesses have been working on reducing plastic waste, with the locally based Iceland leading the way by being the first major supermarket to announce that it will be plastic free in five years.
The amount of plastics being used has reached epidemic proportions. We will all have seen the heart-breaking footage on Blue Planet 2 that demonstrated just how polluted our oceans have become because of our use of plastics and lack of recycling. It is important that we support businesses when they take the action needed to dramatically cut plastic waste.
In the Budget it was announced that a new tax will be imposed on plastics being imported and exported from the UK that do not contain at least 30% recycled material. This is a positive step forward, but what wasn’t announced in the Budget and instead was hidden away in the accompanying documents was that this won’t be in place anytime soon.
It is important that we grasp the nettle that is plastic pollution and take serious action. We cannot go on forever accepting the overuse of plastic as just part of modern life. That is why the UK Government need to become international leaders on reducing plastic usage both at home and abroad.
It was good to meet with Beach Guardian today in Parliament to discuss the impact of plastics on our beaches.
Beach Guardian informed me that over the next 10 years plastic waste in the ocean is set to treble. That is why I supported their pledge to clean up our beaches.
They will be engaging with over 1,000 volunteers of all ages in their first 12 months. The plastics collected from local beaches are then used to deliver Educational Activities with primary schools and other events and they will share their message with 5,000 children in their first twelve months.
This week I signed a pledge to #PassOnPlastic with Sky Ocean Rescue – a commitment to reduce single-use plastic consumption.
This week has been a significant turning point in the usage of plastics. Flintshire’s own Iceland foods has taken industry leading action on the reduction of plastic waste and Asda have soon followed.
Launched in January 2017, Sky Ocean Rescue aims to shine a spotlight on issues of ocean health, particularly single-use plastics, and inspire people to make small changes. The #PassOnPlastic pledge was also signed by 113 MPs, all making a public commitment to reduce their consumption of single-use plastics.
Sky Ocean Rescue’s whale, Plasticus, which is made up of a quarter of a ton of plastic – the amount that enters our oceans every second – arrived outside Parliament to bring to life the scale of the problem.
Sky have been working hard to raise awareness of ocean health and I am delighted to join their campaign and look at ways to reduce my own plastic consumption. It is deeply worrying that there are 5 trillion pieces of plastic in the world’s oceans, with 8 million tonnes more ending up there every year. We all have a role to play in protecting our oceans – that’s why I have signed my pledge to #PassOnPlastic and encourage others to do the same.
I welcome the announcement by Asda Stores Ltd that they will be following the action of Iceland in producing detailed plans about how it will reduce its use of plastic.
Recently, I joined over 120 other MPs in co-signing a letter to the Chief Executives of all major supermarkets to pressure them to commit to the elimination of plastic packaging from their own branded goods by 2023, if not sooner.
In the report published by Asda following this letter they have outlined what progress they have already made. Measures include:
• Committed to making all own brand packaging 100% recyclable by 2025;
• Reducing the weight of their packaging by 27%;
• Removed 500 tonnes of plastic by reducing the weight of their water bottles;
• Producing plastic free cotton buds from January 2018; and
• Reuse/recycle 21% of all George clothing hangers.
Going forward Asda will replace all plastic straws with paper, all plastic pizza boards with cardboard and phase out single use carrier bags during 2018 in favour of bags for life. Profits from the bags will be donated to good cases.
I am pleased to see that Asda is following the example set by Iceland and putting forward some ambition targets. The letter I and over 120 other MPs signed was a catalyst for change. We were able to demonstrate to supermarkets that the efforts they were taking so far were not up to standard and how through improvements they could help our natural environment.
But we should not rest on our laurels. If Blue Planet II taught us anything it showed that our seas have reached an unimaginable level of plastic pollution. If we are to save the ecosystems that our planet relies on we must press to eliminate as many plastics from everyday life as possible. And where this cannot be done we must up our game in regards to recycling.
We have are reaching a tipping point with our planet. If governments, businesses and individuals do not change their habits we will be undermining the sustainability of our natural environment. This announcement by Asda demonstrates that we can make a difference.
You can read the Asda report here.