Andrew Percy MP
Conservative Member of Parliament for Brigg and Goole
We need to find new ways of working with people and listening to their concerns when it comes to making greener choices to help build lasting change.
Whilst many residents might well be attached to regular garden waste collections, the fact is that sending diesel-powered lorries to collect this waste could hardly be described as ‘green’.
Working with residents
The leader of North Lincolnshire Council, Cllr Rob Waltham, in my constituency, came up with a circular solution. Instead of just giving people green bins, the Council encouraged residents to take up garden composters. Within a year, we had over 2,000 fewer weekly bin lorry stops. This was achieved not by forcing a solution on residents, but by working with them.
That’s the kind of creative thinking we need for dealing with plastic packaging.
Reducing plastic packaging
We’re all longing to use less as part of dealing with the climate crisis. In a poll last summer, 32% of us said that the climate crisis was a major issue for Britain – the second biggest issue behind COVID-19 and for many people that is about plastic packaging.
In a poll last summer, 32% of us said that the climate crisis was a major issue for Britain – the second biggest issue behind COVID-19 and for many people that is about plastic packaging.
It is estimated that 81% of people want to buy products with less packaging and 75% believe single-use plastic should be banned asap.
But only 57% of us are willing to change where we shop if that means using less packaging. There’s a big difference between what people say they want and what they are willing to do. How do we bridge that gap?
Affordability and convenience
There are two essential elements: it’s got to be affordable and convenient. Money is tight and people lead busy lives.
I recently chaired a cross-party inquiry to hear what the barriers were to people reusing and refilling containers. Hygiene was a big factor. Many don’t like the idea that someone else has used something before them, no matter how clean they know it is. Convenience is another issue.
What is really promising is the huge potential cost saving. We heard from the Unpackaged Solutions project, one of the largest refill demonstration projects in the world. It’s working with supermarkets to offer refill containers in hundreds of stores. They have found huge potential cost savings.
We know it’s possible and we know it is what people want. The trick now is to engage with people and help them to make the shift to reuse and refill.