Daniel Zeichner MP led a debate in Parliament yesterday in response to a parliamentary petition which calls on the Government to ban non-recyclable and unsustainable food packaging, which gained nearly a quarter of a million signatures.

The petition, signed by 247,048 people, calls on the Government to ban unsustainable packaging and “appoint people to design alternatives“ because “ the Earth is at a crisis point due to our plastic consumption“.

Mr Zeichner told the Environment Minister that: “ it’s clear that the public mood around packaging which goes to landfill, or pollutes our oceans or rivers, has really changed over the last few years. We have woken up. There is genuine public recognition of the climate crisis, real concern over the natural destruction caused by non-recyclable waste.

Over 14 million of us watched David Attenborough’s Blue Planet 2 which revealed the impact that waste is having on our seas and wildlife, while Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall’s War on Plastic found UK plastic waste abandoned all the way away in Malaysia. This has so gripped society’s consciousness that a constituent wrote to me advising that there should be ‘regular showings and reshowings’ of these programmes as they’re so convincing and powerful’.“

“ The magnificent and uplifting School Climate Strikes have inspired and shown that the next generation demands change. We can see it everywhere – I was at the Spinney School in Cambridge on Friday and was impressed not just by their questions, but also by their tremendous Empathy for Earth Day.“

Mr Zeichner referred to a roundtable on food sustainability that he held last week in Cambridge with local organisations. He explained that “ In the discussion I heard from owners of sustainable shops, cafes and businesses such as BeeBee Wraps, the organic reusable food wraps business, Cambridge Carbon Footprint who promote sustainable living, local resources and services, and Cambridge Sustainable Food who focus on partnerships, projects and campaigns that capture the imagination and increase the sustainability of local eating. It was a really illuminating discussion, with complex issues arising – such as the issue that inventing new types of potentially sustainable packaging is far easier than putting into place the infrastructure and processes to deal with it.“

The MP called on the Government to do more: “The Government has looked at banning plastic straws, drinks stirrers and plastic cotton buds, but I fear it has so far been reluctant to introduce the fiscal measures that we know work – the plastic bag charge took 15 billion plastic bags out of circulation, so imagine what proper fiscal incentives and taxes could do to change the way our society considers waste and how committed we are to recycling.“

The MP for Cambridge comments: “I was pleased to lead such an important debate which highlighted fantastic examples of sustainable living from all over the country as MPs showcased initiatives in their own areas. I hope that the strength of feeling from constituents and MPs will be heard by Ministers who will do more to move society towards a more environmentally-friendly future.“

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