On a torrid night for Labour, Sandy Martin, who had been the party’s shadow waste and recycling minister, lost his seat in Ipswich.
Labour now looks set to reshape its waste and environment team in the wake of a series of disastrous results.
Mr Martin was defeated by Conservative candidate Tom Hunt, who won by 5,479 votes – the largest Tory majority in the town in living memory.
On declaration of the seat, he said: “I think the message that comes out of this election for me, and for an awful lot of the people that I have spoken to over the last week or so, is that the only way you can win elections in this country now is by lying.”
He said he was unlikely to stand for office again.
After all the talk during the campaign of targeting ‘Workington Man’ – a supposed archetypal white working-class voter – the seat itself has been taken by the Conservatives from Labour.
Shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman received more than 4,000 fewer votes than Tory candidate Mark Jenkinson.
The Workington Man concept was meant to represent those who traditionally voted Labour but backed Brexit and had no time for the supposedly metropolitan liberal values embodied by Jeremy Corbyn.
Apart from a three-year spell under the Tories following a by-election in 1976, the Workington seat had been held by Labour since 1918.
However, the party was able to celebrate the re-election of Barry Sheerman for the tenth time in Huddersfield.
Though his majority decreased, Mr Sheerman held the seat with 20,509 votes, a 4,937 majority over his nearest challenger, Conservative Ken Davy.
Mr Sheerman is co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group (APSRG), a forum providing a platform for forum the debate between parliamentarians, business leaders and the sustainable resource community.
An early advocate of the Landfill Tax in 2002, Mr Sheerman has been campaigning within the waste sector for nearly 20 years and has also, in recent years, been involved in the education sector.
Alan Whitehead, Labour MP for Southampton Test since 1997, also retained his seat, albeit with a much-reduced majority.
“It’s been a desperate evening for Labour”
Dr Whitehead is a shadow minister for energy and climate change and an officer for the APSRG.
He beat Conservative Steven Galton by 6,213 votes, 5,290 fewer than his majority at the 2017 election.
Following his victory, he said: “It’s been a desperate evening for Labour – far worse than I anticipated. It’s quite clear we didn’t get any traction for our message. That’s our fault. We need to fundamentally rethink how we can get support for progressive policies.”
Another involved in the waste sector who stood during the election was recycling sector expert and chief executive of the Resource Association, Ray Georgeson.
Standing for the Lib Dems in Bishop Auckland, a traditional Labour seat, he received 2,133 votes, nearly 22,000 fewer than the Tory, Dehenna Davison.
Ms Davison, who at 25 will be one of the youngest in the House of Commons, is the seat’s first ever Conservative MP.
Speaking to letsrecycle.com prior to the vote, Mr Georgeson said: “This has been the strangest and nastiest election I’ve ever been involved with.
“The central issues of Brexit and the climate emergency remain unsatisfactorily addressed.
“The one thing I can say though is that doorstep recycling hasn’t come up once on the doorstep!”
Kingston and Surbiton
Though for the most part the Lib Dems suffered a catastrophic evening, taking just 11 seats, the party could take some satisfaction in the re-election of its deputy leader Ed Davey as the MP for Kingston & Surbiton, with an increased majority.
Mr Davey beat Conservative Aphra Brandreth by 10,489 votes, more than double his majority at the 2017 election.
On 3 February 2012, following the resignation of Chris Huhne, Mr Davey was appointed secretary of state for energy and climate change in the coalition government, and he has been a vocal campaigner on environmental issues.
After party leader Jo Swinson lost her Dunbartonshire East constituency to the SNP, Mr Davey has taken over as interim leader and appears likely to be her eventual successor.
Meanwhile, the SNP’s considerable success is seen as likely to strengthen the Scottish Government’s mandate for its ambitious environmental plans. These include a deposit scheme for single use plastics, which is likely to be introduced before any such scheme in England.
“The interests of Falkirk and Scotland will not be ignored”
John McNally, SNP spokesperson for the environment in Westminster, retained his seat in Falkirk, increasing his majority by 13.5%.
Mr McNally said he was delighted with his win in Falkirk and declared: “Rest assured I, along with my colleagues, will be making your voices heard loud and clear in the halls of Westminster. The interests of Falkirk and Scotland will not be ignored.”
He has been an enthusiast for innovation in plastics recycling, saying earlier this year during a parliamentary debate that “70 per cent of plastics waste is absolutely avoidable”.