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MPs clash over paint recycling

Paint Recycling

MPs have clashed over paint recycling, with resources minister Therese Coffey frustrating the opposition by refusing to intervene to boost the sector.

Labour MP Angela Smith led a ‘Circular economy: leftover paint’ debate in Westminster Hall, where she said only 2% of paint was currently reused or remanufactured in the UK. She called on the Government to commit to a 5% procurement target in the public sector.

Shadow environment secretary Rachael Maskell said the “potential in the industry is huge”, and asked what support the Government would give local authorities to increase their use of secondary paint.

Therese coffey in eu council

Therese coffey in eu council

Coffey (pictured left) agreed that a reduction in paint waste was a priority but ministers would not intervene directly.

“I believe we should try to reduce the amount of paint coming into the system in the first place. We need a better consumer understanding of how much paint is needed to paint a room,” she said.

“People should be able to take the room measurements to the shop and easily calculate how many litres are needed. That is the best way to prevent the problem in the first place.”

Angela smith

Angela smith

This response was not received well by Labour MPs, with Smith (pictured right) saying she was “very disappointed indeed” with Coffey’s comments.

She said: “The minister admitted that buying sustainably is at the heart of the Government’s procurement strategy. In that sense, it is really hard to understand why the Government cannot make a simple commitment to a 5% target. It is not a particularly ambitious target; it is a fairly sensible, modest target.

“If the Government sent out a clear signal to all of those public sector bodies that procure and use paint – prisons, schools, hospitals and so on – that they expect 5% of paint and coatings orders to be made up of remanufactured paint, that in itself would help to send out a signal to the market that this is a serious business that is capable of growing in the future.”

The debate spilled over to social media afterwards, with Coffey being asked whether extended producer responsibility (EPR) could apply to paint.

Her reply was: “I don’t think paint manufacturers want to be part of EPR or waste directives.”

She asked the British Coatings Federation’s Paintcare scheme, which aims to help stop the landfilling of leftover decorative paint, for its opinion.

Paintcare said: “EPR moves the cost burden to industry but won’t help find end markets or stop paint being leftover.”

Meanwhile, Maskell posted: “It’s been a worrying debate on the circular economy in Westminster. The Government aren’t prepared to engage. Labour has an ambitious agenda.”

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