Environmental campaigner Alex Chalk MP will be hosting a “MPs drop-in” session, organised by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), in Parliament on 16 May 2018 after Prime Minister’s Questions.
The event seeks to raise awareness of the impact of plastic pollution on the marine environment. It will highlight the MCS campaign #Stoptheplastictide which is asking for levies on single use plastic items.
The event will feature a state-of-the-art deposit return machine.
Resource packs will be given to MPs which set out alternatives to things like plastic straws, plastic water bottles and disposable coffee cups. The packs will identify a wide range of initiatives which can be introduced in organisations to reduce plastic pollution.
Alex Chalk said: “UK consumers go through an estimated 13 billion plastic drinks bottles a year. More than 3 billion are simply thrown away. So a bottle deposit return scheme to increase recycling rates has to be the way forward.
“A variety of “bottle-eating” deposit machines are already in service around the world. I’m delighted that the Marine Conservation Society is bringing one to Westminster. We want to show Ministers and MPs just how simple and effective they can be.”
Alex Chalk continued: “Single-use plastic items such as straws, stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds have a significant impact on our environment. 8.5 billion plastic straws are thrown away each year in the UK. They end up in landfill, or in rivers and ultimately the sea, where they will take up to 500 years to break down.
“As MPs will see, there are a wide range of alternatives. Disposable straws can be made of compostable “bio-plastics” derived from corn starch that biodegrade in 12 weeks. Multi-use straws can be made of paper, metal or bamboo. One US company is even developing an edible straw made from seaweed that comes in flavours such as mango or vanilla.”
Emma Crane, Public Affairs Manager at MCS said: "We've arranged for a deposit return machine to be brought to Parliament for this event because we really hope that the Government will introduce a deposit return scheme for bottles and cans as soon as possible so that more bottles and cans can be recycled.
“The Marine Conservation Society reports the data on the litter we find on our volunteer beach cleans to DEFRA and we are seeing the levels of plastic litter rise - a shocking 70% of all litter found on our beaches is plastic. We've had a big increase in the number of people getting involved in our beach cleans and signing up to our #Stoptheplastictide campaign - it's an issue that the public really care about. It's great to be organising this event with Alex Chalk MP and we hope that many MPs will join us in making positive changes that will protect our marine environment".
The event has been timed to encourage MPs to respond to the Government’s consultation on single use plastics which closes on 18 May. It will also encourage MPs to engage with their local businesses and public organisations to reduce their single use plastic use.