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MP warns bag exemption will ‘damage industry’

Waste minister Dan Rogerson has been urged to meet the plastics recycling industry over a proposed exemption for biodegradable products in the forthcoming levy on single-use carrier bags.

A report by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) earlier this year said that Government plans for a 5p plastic bag charge in England would be “unnecessarily complicated” in part due to the exemption of biodegradable bags.

Committee chair Joan Walley said biodegradable bags can “cause big problems” for recycling facilities.

In a debate at the House of Commons, Labour MP Katy Clarke also warned of “likely damage” to the UK plastics recycling industry of an exemption.

She called on Rogerson to meeting sector representatives to discuss their concerns.

He replied: “I understand the sector’s concerns based on products that have been described as biodegradable in the past, but we are talking about the opportunity for new products to come forward.

“That is why we have offered money to those who can come up with techniques for separating different forms of bag.

“We are directing this initiative at the 7.1 billion single-use carrier bags - the figure comes from 2012. We want to tackle that and it is a popular policy that people support. We also want to provide opportunities for new more appropriate products to come forward.”

Conservative MP Nigel Mills invited Rogerson to visit a plastics recycling facility in his constituency to see “what damage to that industry could be done if biodegradable material accidentally gets into the waste stream”.

But other MPs backed the proposed exemption. Michael Fabricant (Con): “Will the minister speak to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and make it very clear that it would be unwelcome in England to have a 5p tariff on plastic bags if they are biodegradable?”

Rogerson said the Government’s formal response to the EAC report was due on 7 April.

 

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