The government’s waste and resources strategy will look at ‘further restrictions’ on some single-use plastic items, Environment Secretary Michael Gove has suggested.
Mr Gove made the comments to an invited audience in central London last night (22 November) after delivering a lecture on behalf of the Theos think tank, titled ‘When Will There Be a Harvest for the World?”.
In his address, Mr Gove discussed themes including climate change, environmental justice and government’s role as a ‘steward’ of the natural environment.
Mr Gove said: “It is the case, that we have caused environmental damage and deterioration on a dramatic scale in the last century, with pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity loss, habitat erosion, soil depletion and deforestation.
“That requires us to think more carefully than ever about how we use resources, how we protect what is precious and irreplaceable, how we manage our way out of methods of production and patterns of consumption which are wasteful and profligate.”
During a question and answer session following on from his lecture, Mr Gove was also asked whether the government would take ‘bold steps’ to address plastic waste – which he had earlier described as ‘choking our coastlines’.
The Environment Secretary said that this is likely to be addressed in the forthcoming Resources and Waste Strategy, which is expected to be published prior to the New Year. This is likely to build on existing proposals to ban plastic straws and drink stirrers outlined last month.
He commented: “We are going to say more in our Resources and Waste Strategy which will be published before Christmas. I can’t pre-empt what we are going to say, but it is certainly the case that we are contemplating more restrictions on certain single use plastics and contemplating what more we can do working with industry.”
On whether the government would impose tougher measures on retailers, for example, to reduce waste and recycle more, Mr Gove added: “There are some companies that can do more, but we believe that the right thing to do is to have the right level of regulation and the right set of incentives to change that behaviour.”
Following speculation that he might resign from his position in the Cabinet last week, Mr Gove said he was ‘very glad’ to have decided to continue in his current role, but would not be drawn on his long term future in the position.
He said: “Without going into detail about all the things that happened, at the end of the process, I was very, very glad that I had stayed where I was.
“There are other people in parliament and in government who could do this job even as well as, if not much better than me. I won’t embarrass them by naming them, but I have Conservative ministerial colleagues and on the back benches from my party and other parties who could do the job.
“Nobody is indispensable, certainly not me. But, I want to carry on as long as I can be useful and [can] do the right thing.”