This week in Parliament, St Albans MP Anne Main has continued her campaign against plastic waste.
Mrs Main, who chairs the cross-party group on preventing plastic waste, spoke up about the
importance of changing consumer mindsets about single-use plastics, the importance of using
sustainable and natural replacements and the ‘plastic soup’ of microplastics that are now in our
Mrs Main’s speech was during the e-petition debate on unsustainable packaging. E-petition debates
are triggered after 100,000 people sign in support.
“St Albans cares deeply about environmental issues and I am grateful to the 464 people from St
Albans who signed the petition” Anne said.
“As a society, we cannot turn back the clock.” said Mrs Main. “What we need is to minimise waste
from plastic by reusing it wherever we can and ensuring that [we don’t have] a throwaway,
Anne continued, “We do not want to increase food waste or the number of heavy bottles being
transported around the country; we need to decide whether we actually need that packaging, rather
than replacing it with something in a different form that might be just as damaging.”
Mrs Main highlighted the issues recycling facilities have with mixed plastic and cardboard packing,
such as sandwich packets and Pringles tubes. Anne also attacked the ‘throwaway society’ of people
buying cheap clothing and disposing of them after only one or two uses.
In her closing remarks, Anne said:
“Our contact with plastic is huge and in the future people will ask why on earth we did not realise
quite how injurious this was, not only to the environment but to those people and animals and
plants in the environment that suffer as a result of plastic toxicity. We should not just be picking up
our plastic waste, but cutting off the stream.”
This week also saw Anne chair another meeting of her cross-party group in Parliament on the
prevention of plastic waste. Mrs Main invited Starbucks to come in and set out what action they are
taking to change customer behaviour and reduce the amount of plastic waste disposed of by their
customers and staff.
Starbucks explained that they are investing in new technologies that will make the lining in their
coffee cups much easier to break down and therefore easier to recycle. They have teamed up with
other coffee chains and restaurants, such as McDonalds, to increase their chances of finding a
solution. Starbucks are also planning on eliminating plastic straws in their stores next year and have
already introduced 5p charges for using paper cups in their stores.
Following the meeting, Anne said:
“One of the main reasons why we brought Starbucks in to meet the APPG is that they are clearly
trying to tackle this problem head on. They admit themselves that introducing 5p charges on paper
cups and offering 25p discounts to customers with reusable coffee cups was a bold strategy at the
time, but it has paid off.
“The UK’s coffee culture continues to grow and that means thousands more takeaway coffee cups
going into landfill every day. Starbucks, by combining with other coffee shops, can make a real
difference in how much of that goes to waste. If they can change the way their customers think
about throwaway cups and encourage us all to use more reusable containers then that is a good
“They told me that in just two years, we have gone from 1 in 400 coffee cups being recycled to 1 in
25. That’s a major achievement but we all know there is more to be done.”