In a bid to set an example on all things environmental, UK Parliament will go plastic-free by 2019 – ditching single-use plastics in favour of compostables.
All cutlery, coffee cups and lids, soup containers, takeaway food containers, salad boxes and straws supplied across the House of Commons and the House of Lords will be made from plant-based products.
New waste bins will be provided for used compostable items, which will then be emptied and sent to a specialist waste facility where a combination of heat and microbes will break the waste down and turn it into compost for the garden.
Meanwhile food waste will be captured separately and sent to an anaerobic digestion facility to produce biofertiliser and methane gas for energy generation.
These moves come after campaigners urged politicians to ditch single-use plastic at the start of this year. Figures released at the time showed one million disposable coffee cups were purchased in Parliament last year and, in total, more than two million avoidable single-use plastic items were purchased by the House of Commons and the House of Lords in 2017.
Compostable products are one of several measures Parliament is taking to eliminate its sale and use of avoidable single-use plastics by next year.
In June it introduced re-usable coffee cups, more than one thousand of which have already been sold to MPs, Peers, visitors and staff. From October 2018, it will stop selling bottled water, which will immediately remove 120,000 plastic bottles from circulation annually.
Plastic condiment sachets have also been identified as unnecessary and will be replaced with a sustainable alternative, while plastic carrier bags will continue to be phased out in retail outlets on the Parliamentary Estate during 2018-19.
Sir Paul Beresford MP, Chair of the Commons Administration Committee, which recommended the proposals for the House of Commons, said he was delighted to see significant progress being made towards “challenging targets”.
“The measures we are introducing are ambitious and wide ranging, covering not just coffee cups but an array of items from plastic bottles, our new compostable products, to condiment sachets and stationery,” he said. “Our aim is to remove, as far as possible, disposable plastic items from the Parliamentary Estate.”