25 July 2019 by Will Date

Villiers faces questions on plastics and textiles

In her first engagement as Environment Secretary, Theresa Villiers has outlined the government’s commitment to tackling plastic waste through the Resources and Waste Strategy.

Her comments came in response to questions from MPs in the House of Commons this morning (July 25).

Theresa Villiers at the dispatch box in her first outing as Environment Secretary (Source: Parliament.tv)

Speaking in the Commons chamber just hours after having been appointed to the role (see letsrecycle.com story), Ms Villiers faced Defra questions flanked by the Department’s current ministerial team Therese Coffey, Robert Goodwill and David Rutley.

Initial questions from MPs related to adaptation to climate change, forestry investment zones as well as the steps the government is taking to address litter and plastic pollution.

Prevention

Expressing her pleasure at returning to the dispatch box, Ms Villiers responded to the latter issue by suggestion that the government priority is “preventing plastic waste in the first instance.”

She said: “The Resources and Waste Strategy sets out our plans to eliminate avoidable plastic waste including certain single use items.

“This week we published government responses to consultations on measures which include making recycling easier and ensuring producers pay the full cost of recycling their packaging responsibly.”

Theresa Villiers, Environment Secretary

“This week we published government responses to consultations on measures which include making recycling easier and ensuring producers pay the full cost of recycling their packaging responsibly.”

She went on to congratulate her predecessor, Michael Gove, for his ‘world leading’ work on the issue, and acknowledged the groundswell of public opinion in tackling plastic waste.

She said: “There is a real public attitude out there that they want to be part of solving this urgent problem.

“The government will continue to support organisations like the National Citizens Service in engaging young people in ensuring they are playing a part in the determination that the government has in resolving this problem because of the concern felt about it.”

DRS

She later faced a question from the Labour MP Nick Smith, who asked why the government had set a 2023 start date for its proposed Deposit Return Scheme for drinks packaging, and not sooner.

The Environment Secretary was pressed by Mary Creagh, the Environmental Audit Committee chair, on steps to address texitle waste

Responding, she said: “We have gone further than any other government on tackling plastic waste. I very much acknowledge the concern about the matter he has raised.

“We will always try and move as fast as possible to make sure we are taking the most effect action, but we also need to take time to make sure we get it right. But I assure him that I will work to ensure this action is delivered as soon as possible.”

Environmental Audit Committee chair Mary Creagh then questioned the Secretary of State on fast fashion and clothing waste, calling for urgent action from the government on the issue.

In response, Ms Villiers said: “Government will be working through WRAP and with industry on developing an ambitious new phase of the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan. We are planning to develop regulatory labels to support durable, repairable and recyclable products, consult on an extended producer responsibility scheme and support innovation in textile recycling.”

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