Ipswich MP Sandy Martin has been announced as Labour’s shadow waste and recycling minister.
The brief was previously covered by David Drew but, in a statement, Labour said Martin was the “first ever ministerial or shadow position covering both waste and recycling”.
It is not yet clear what Labour means by this.
Drew revealed to MRW in July that he was working on a redrafted Labour policy on waste, with a “much more sceptical attitude” to energy from waste because of its adverse impact on recycling rates.
A Labour environment policy document launched in early October, Green Transformation, made little reference to waste and no reference at all to recycling.
A Labour spokesperson told MRW the issues would be dealt with separately. There is as yet no indication of when.
Martin said: “There is an urgent need to move beyond the piecemeal, ‘campaign of the month’ approach from the Government on plastics, and work towards a whole-systems approach to reform our entire waste and recycling infrastructure.
“Dumping waste abroad where much of it ends up in the ocean is not a sustainable solution. I look forward to working with [Labour leader] Jeremy Corbyn and the Defra team to bring forward policies for meaningful, systemic change on plastics, waste and recycling, and to hold the Government to account on its haphazard and short-termist approach.”
Corbyn said: “We must urgently tackle the plastics crisis which is choking our oceans and damaging people’s health.” He added that Martin’s appointment was “a measure of how seriously we are taking this issue”.
Government resources minister Therese Coffey has been in post since August 2016, and is taking a lead on the development of the resources and waste strategy, expected to be launched before the end of the year.
The frontbench Labour team has not been particularly visible in scrutinising Government proposals on waste and recycling in Parliament in the past two years, but some backbench Labour MPs have filled the void.
Through her role as chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, Labour MP Mary Creagh has closely questioned Coffey and environment secretary Michael Gove on key industry issues.
Geraint Davies also launched a draft Plastics Bill.