Time to talk seriously about cutting plastic

I was delighted with the Prime Minister’s recent announcement of the Government plan to eliminate plastic waste. Since first being elected MP I have fought to clean up our environment, rivers and now, critically, our oceans.

I have always believed the best way to reduce waste is to educate, encourage and incentivise both consumers and businesses. However, we are at a critical state where should this not work, the Government is right to legislate to bring about change. Focus in recent times has been on recycling, which is of course essential, but if we are serious about reducing waste we must act to cut plastic out of the manufacturing process entirely.

Recently I launched my campaign to remove plastic from tea bags and other consumables. I am sure that many of you will be shocked to know that tea bags contain up to 25 per cent plastic polymer, which makes them unable to be fully composted and leads to trace amounts leaking into our rivers and oceans.

With 160m tea bags used here in Britain per day it equates to 2,400 tons of plastic per year entering our environment unnecessarily.

I will be speaking to Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, in the coming week and have launched a petition to raise awareness of this issue as the first step to removing all unnecessary plastic from our supermarket shopping.

Here in the constituency I attended a meeting of the Corsham Town Team to continue to push for the re-opening of Corsham railway station. For many the process of delivering a station for Corsham seems like a long and drawn-out one. I know that feeling, having campaigned since 2013 on the issue, but progress is being made.

The Government has been clear in its support for suburban railway provision and it is vital for the economy of Corsham that the station is re-opened. The case for re- opening is being formalised currently as part of the rail franchise process and I am pleased that the positive impacts on surrounding towns, e.g. reduction in morning traffic in Chippenham, will be highlighted as part of this.

I will continue to push as the voice in Westminster to deliver this much-needed local service and it is fantastic that people of all political persuasions have come together to make this happen locally.

In addition to my usual appointment- based surgeries and as part of my pledge to be as accessible as possible, I am running a number of open surgeries across the constituency with the ones in ASDA Melksham and Sainsbury’s Bradford on Avon already confirmed. If you would like more information on these events, please get in touch on michelle.donelan.mp@parliament.uk or 01249 704465.

Michelle Donelan’s column in the Gazette and Herald