MPs call for national body to reduce packaging

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Indy Politics

Companies should face fines if they fail to meet new legal targets for cutting the huge amount of packaging that is creating vast amounts of waste, Liberal Democrats will say today.

They will also call for a new scheme to ask customers to pay a refundable deposit if they take a plastic carrier bag and demand a new national body to be established to help trading standards prosecute firms who flout guidelines on packaging.

A motion to be debated by the party conference in Brighton this morning praises The Independent for mounting its campaign against waste to bear down on the waste created by excessive packaging.

It calls for legislation to require all large supermarkets to have waste bins to allow customers to throw away packaging before they leave the store and asks Ministers to encourage schemes such as that in the town of Modbury, Devon, where retailers have imposed a voluntary moratorium on carrier bags.

The party is also calling for the law to be simplified to make it easier to police.

The motion says: "Conference notes with concern the need to reduce excess packaging and welcomes the campaigns of the Women's Institute and The Independent newspaper which have illustrated the broad public consensus that exists over the need to take action."

Lib Dems warned that domestic waste has increased by more than 20 per cent since 1997, meaning that increases in domestic recycling have "only managed to keep pace with the total increase".

Yesterday Jo Swinson, the MP for Dunbartonshire East, who is proposing today's motion, said that packaging represented 17 per cent of the British household food budget and cost families as much as £470 a year. A total of 174 MPs have signed her Commons motion protesting at the huge amount of food and other packaging produced by manufacturers and retailers.

She said people paid for packaging at the checkout and in increased charges for waste collection as well as bearing the environmental cost of landfill.

She said: "Rather than having voluntary targets we need to have a system where firms report each year and if they do not do that you impose penalties. The idea is not to use penalties, the idea is to make them do this.

"Some companies are taking action but it is such a big issue that we need action quickly. This is an issue that has really struck a chord with people. They are just annoyed about it."