Ahead of the upcoming UN Global Plastic Treaty negotiations Selaine Saxby MP led a debate on “Reducing Plastic Pollution in our Oceans”. This important debate raised the impact plastics are having on our marine environments, how we can prevent them entering the ocean and how we can remove plastics already there.
The debate received cross party support as MPs from across the UK came together to discuss solutions to the global issue of plastic in our oceans. Ms Saxby opened the debate by discussing the work that the Government has done which has greatly reduced the amount of single use items, such as shopping bags and cotton buds, and microplastics washing up on beaches. She called on the Government to continue to lead on this issue by pushing for limits on virgin plastic production and unnecessary plastic use at this week’s UN Global Plastic Treaty negotiations.
Selaine worked with The Ocean Cleanup, the world’s only organisation removing legacy plastic from our oceans, ahead of the debate and used the debate to ask the UK Government to become the first Government to fund them and their projects. They remove plastic by detecting hotspots of plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which contains 100,000,000 kgs of plastic across an are three times the size of France, and then deploys a trawler type solution to collect and sort the plastic without harming local wildlife.
Selaine Saxby, MP for North Devon, said,
“We all know the effect that plastic waste has on our environment, and it has been fantastic to see the work of both Government and communities over recent years to clean up our coastlines. However plastic pollution is a global problem which needs global solution, I was proud to use this debate to call on the Government to support the innovative work of The Ocean Cleanup as they remove legacy plastic from our oceans before it breaks down into hard to remove microplastics.
“Whilst we all do our best to reduce our plastic use and recycle where we can it can be hard to completely eliminate plastic waste. The UK needs to lead global efforts on strong limits for virgin plastic production and limiting unnecessary use. Implementing reuse schemes alongside recycling have been recognised as one of the most effective ways to reduce plastic pollution.”
Rebecca Pow, Minister for Environmental Quality and Resilience said:
“Thank you to my Honourable Friend for bringing this matter before the House. She herself is a great champion for her constituency, but particularly on subjects connected with water and the coast. I don't think anyone could ask for more on that front.
So, she has to be praised for all the work that she's done, particularly for bringing this subject to for us to debate. I think we'll all agree that whilst we do have our differences there's an awful lot of common ground in terms of plastic in the ocean isn't acceptable. We've got to do something to tackle it and we've really got to do absolutely urgently.”
João Ribeiro-Bidaoui, General Counsel & Director of Global Public Affairs at The Ocean Cleanup said:
“Today marks a significant milestone for The Ocean Cleanup as the UK Parliament becomes the first in the world to discuss our progress, specifically, of System 03. We are deeply grateful for the tireless efforts of MP Selaine Saxby, who championed our mission and brought it to the attention of the House of Commons, with the support of MP John McNally.
“This vital multi-party dialogue is a leap toward global recognition of the urgent need for the remediation of legacy plastic pollution in the ocean. We are both humbled and invigorated by this recognition, as it elevates our responsibility to deliver on our promises, with utmost efficiency and steadfast environmental responsibility.”
Selaine also highlighted local groups such as Plastic Free North Devon and local schools for their work on reducing plastic use and cleaning up our beaches. Plastic use is often how young children become interested in our environment and Selaine highlighted the Ruby Rockpool books of mermaid Hannah Pearl as a way to introduce children to the topic.