§ Mr. Peter Ainsworth
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking to encourage the use of biodegradable plastic bags. 
§ Mr. Morley
Government are not taking steps to promote the use of biodegradable plastic bags. The use of degradable plastics that are made from fossil fuel, and specifically designed for disposal with no beneficial recovery potential, runs counter to the Government's aim to increase recycling. In addition, if disposed of in landfill rather than, for example, being composted, biodegradable waste breaks down to release methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas.
The Government do support the development of biodegradable plastics from non-fossil sources. The Government-Industry Forum on Non-Food Uses of Crops has concluded that there is an opportunity to produce compostable packaging materials in the UK.125W
Defra is currently drawing up a Non-Food Crops Strategy. A draft is expected to be issued for consultation later in 2004.