Thanks to Plastic Free Hackney for raising with me concerns about the poor recycling rates of disposable cups in Parliament. During the pandemic, I’ve become increasing concerned about the impact that many new behaviours are having on sustainability and our need to urgently transition to a net zero economy. On the parliamentary estate, for instance, you are no longer allowed to bring your own reusable cups when purchasing a drink. This is a small but important example of how we can slowly start going backwards on these important issues. It is vital we return to a more normal and sustainable approach as soon as practically possible.

I wrote to the select committee in charge of overseeing the running of the parliamentary estate, the Administration Committee, and pressed it on these concerns. The response I received pointed to the need to wait until the Government further relaxed social distancing guidelines. You can read the response in full by clicking the pdf link below. I will continue working with colleagues across Parliament so that the parliamentary estate can return to leading by example on the issue of sustainability.

However the lack of guidance and clear direction from the Government on this wider issue is disappointing. Single-use plastics do not offer significant protection from an airborne virus. But the widespread use of single-use plastics does take us backwards on the urgent need to transition to a net zero economy. Businesses face confusing rules and unclear guidance at a time when we are slowly returning to a greater semblance of normal life. The Government needs to urgently clarify the guidance and show leadership on this issue. I’ll keep pressing for faster action.