Sandy Martin, Labour’s Shadow Waste and Recycling Minister has said that the government’s Resources and Waste Strategy does not put enough emphasis on waste reduction.
Speaking at the Packaging Innovations and Luxury Packaging event, Mr Martin said: “It is not challenging enough, it is not comprehensive enough, it does not put enough emphasis on waste prevention instead of waste recycling.
“It is unnecessary to single out plastic and unhelpful to single out packaging. The issue is not if packaging is recyclable but if it is recycled.”
Mr Martin argued that packaging should be used as a way to reduce the level of waste for the products being packaged and that the Resource and Waste Strategy’s 2050 target for eliminating all avoidable waste had been put “too far into the future and lacked detail”.
However, he also noted that it was likely the UK would comply with EU packaging and recycling laws even if Brexit went ahead and that he supported recycling labelling systems which stretched beyond national borders.
“I think that if we had a system that operated across the world that would be ideal but failing that a system that operated across the whole of the European Union would be amazing.”
The MP also praised the recycling system used in Wales which sees consistency in collection across all council covered by the devolved Labour administration.
Contamination from plastic in composting is an issue Mr Martin sees within waste and recycling at present.
He said: “There’s a clear way forward for food waste which is anaerobic digestion – but farmers who use composted food waste have a serious problem with plastic contamination in the compost.
He called for regulation of compostable plastic to ensure it was not contaminating organic products and was being sent to facilities where it could be processed appropriately.