HC Deb 16 November 1971 vol 826 cc117-8W
Mrs. Joyce Butler

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will state the industries with which he has opened discussions in regard to the nonreturnability of containers and wrappings; and when he expects to be able to report the results of these discussions to the House.

Mr. Peter Walker

My Department has had discussions with representatives of the Milk Distributive Council and the Milk Marketing Board about nonreturnable milk bottles and there will be a continuing contact on future trends and on more specific issues.

Officials of my Department and other Departments are associated with the Plastics Institute's Working Party on Designing for Disposability which arose from the Institute's conference on Plastics Waste and the Environment which I opened in February, 1971. The terms of reference of the Working Party are to consider and make recommendations on those aspects of the disposability of plastics materials and products where a better or more appropriate use of materials, of design and of marketing may lessen the problems of disposability. This may embrace a reduction in materials or a change in the use of materials, and the design of products as well as a consideration of the available disposal methods which may affect that design. Attention will also be given to re-use, recovery and recycling so far as the selection of materials and design may be relevant to that situation. Officials of the Department of the Environment, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Health and Social Services, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, shall be associated with the Working Party in order that regard may be had to the Report of the Working Party on Refuse Disposal published by H.M.S.O. in April, 1971.

A proposal for a working group to be set up on similar lines to consider present trends in the use of glass bottles has been put to the Glass Manufacturers' Federation and has been accepted in principle. The possible terms of reference are under active consideration.

I am grateful to all those concerned for their co-operation in these matters. I am sure that these detailed studies are an essential prerequisite of the development of realistic policies. I will, of course, inform the House of any conclusions which are drawn from these studies and from any other discussions with interested bodies.