Carmichael calls for easier plastic recycling

Alistair Carmichael, MP for the Northern Isles has continued his campaign to reduce plastic use. Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions he challenged the Prime Minister to work with plastic manufacturers to reduce the number of types of plastic used in the UK to make it easier for local authorities and companies to improve recycling.

At present around 50 types of plastic are used by manufacturing, adding cost and complexity for local authorities to recycle, meaning some plastic ends up in landfill. This is compared to Norway where only two types of plastic are used and 97% of plastic bottles are recycled.

Speaking in the House of Commons at Prime Minister’s Questions, Alistair Carmichael said:

“The Government has made a decent start at tackling the problem of our overuse of plastics, but we know that if we are going to get recycling rates up to where they need to be, then we are going to have to look at the production processes, a point that was made to me by pupils at Anderson High School in Lerwick on Monday. Will the Government work with plastic manufacturers to see what they can do to reduce the 50 different types of plastics that are currently in use, and in that way, make it easier to sort and to recycle them?”

The Prime Minister replied:

“The Rt. Hon. Gentleman makes a very important point we are making some progress on plastics, but we do need to work with manufacturers, about the production of plastic in the future, and that is why we are doing exactly that. The Business Secretary, and the Environment Secretary and others are talking to manufacturers about how we can ensure that plastic which is produced is plastic that will be recyclable, and not plastic which just ends up in the oceans, with all the problems which that involves.”

Commenting after the exchange, Mr. Carmichael added:

“When I visited Anderson High School on Monday, pupils there told me about all the work they had been doing campaigning to increase plastic recycling. Some of the challenges they highlighted were around the difficulties many local authorities have dealing with 50 or so different types of plastic, and recycling them all. They highlighted the problems around those who manufacture the plastics. As a result of the case they made I decided to raise their concerns with the Prime Minister directly.

“The response from the Prime Minister was encouraging, in that she understands the problems, and work is already underway on this, but the true test will be whether her actions match her words.

“In Norway we have seen the benefits of a more standardised approach, with their recycling rate on plastic bottles reaching 97% while our own is only around 50%, and the Government should move quickly to follow their rhetoric”

“I hope that the Anderson High pupils will feel encouraged to keep campaigning on plastic use. The problem is a local, national and global. We can all make a difference if we take action.”

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