If you keep up with my work at Westminster, you’ll know that one particular area of environmental interest for me is trying to cut down the amount of waste created by disposable nappies. This is just one small effort towards the fight against single-use plastics pollution, but has the potential to make a massive difference. Yesterday evening, I lobbied the UK Government to amend their Environment Bill to take this into account.
Every year across the UK, almost 3 billion disposable nappies are thrown away. Those which end up in landfill can take in excess of 300 years to degrade, despite manufacturers being allowed to be marketed as ‘eco-friendly’. All of this leads to disposable nappies being one of the biggest contributors to single-use plastic waste. Not only that, but they are also the worst cause of contamination in recycling, which in turn ends up costing our councils.
When I introduced the Nappies (Environmental Standards) Bill in the last Parliament, my intention wasn’t to force people to use reusables. That would be hypocritical of me. As the father of a young baby, I know only too well of the difficulties and pressures parents face. In my own home, we use a combination of reusables and disposables, which massively cuts down on waste and saves us money when compared with using disposables only.
My legislation would have also have made it much more difficult for the manufacturers of disposable nappies to make bold claims about their products which simply don’t stack up in reality. This isn’t about policing an industry, but about levelling the playing field for the manufacturers of reusable nappies.
One such manufacturer is TotsBots, a truly remarkable company based in Queenslie right here in my Glasgow East constituency. TotsBots is a a family-run business which sells its cloth-based nappy products in over 30 countries worldwide, all of which are manufactured right here in the East end.
TotsBots really has been my inspiration to have the law changed and why I continue to persevere with this important issue. These proposals aren’t a silver bullet in tackling climate change or plastic pollution, but they have the potential to make a massive difference.
The British Government says it wants to have even higher environmental standards now that we’ve left the European Union. If that really is the case, then I don’t see how they can object to these proposals.
I’ll continue to push for the inclusion of these measures in the Environment Bill and I hope to be able to work constructively with Ministers to make sure we live up to our ambitions.