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British Canoeing signs letter to PM urging him to set legally binding plastic pollution targets

British Canoeing, alongside other businesses, MPs, faith leaders, academics and campaigning organisations are calling on the Prime Minister to introduce legally binding targets to stem the growing tide of plastic pollution.  

The call comes as MPs are set to debate amendments to the Environment Bill in Parliament (during its report stage) later today. An amendment calling for legally binding plastics reduction targets to be included in the bill has been tabled by Conservative MP Chris Loder (West Dorset). 

In their letter to Boris Johnson the group says that while government initiatives - such as the ban on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds – have had positive impacts, a more over-arching approach is needed to deal with the problem.  

In particular, the Prime Minister is being urged to ensure that long-term and interim targets for cutting plastic pollution are included in the government’s flagship Environment Bill, which is currently passing through Parliament.  

The signatories to the letter include businesses such as Iceland and Neal’s Yard, a cross-party group of MPs, faith leaders, academics and organisations such as Friends of the Earth, the WI, Surfers against Sewage, Keep Britain Tidy, City to Sea and Tearfund. (see link to letter (below) for a full list).  

Although the government’s focus has rightly been on the coronavirus crisis over the past year, the plastic pollution problem has not gone away – and appears to have been exacerbated by the pandemic, with disposable face masks found on more than two thirds of recent Marine Conservation Society beach clean ups. 

Chris Loder MP, who has tabled an amendment to the Environment Bill requiring legally binding plastic pollution reduction targets to be set said: 

The Government has made great strides towards tackling the scourge of plastic pollution. My amendment takes this further. We generate so much plastic waste here in the UK that it needs to be shipped abroad, whilst supermarkets and large retailers have no requirement to reduce their excessive plastic usage. Now is the time to get a grip of plastic pollution, once and for all.

– Chris Loder MP

Chantelle Grundy, British Canoeing Access and Environment Officer said, "Over the years paddlers have removed tonnes of plastic pollution from our most treasured blue spaces and seen first hand the damage it is causing in our environment, which has brought into sharp focus the scale of the issue we face."

We are calling on the Prime Minister to deliver legally binding plastic reduction targets within the Environment Bill to protect the places we paddle and the health of our communities.

– Chantelle Grundy, British Canoeing Access and Environment Officer

Amy Slack, Head of Campaigns and Policy at Surfers Against Sewage said:  

“During the COVID pandemic we have seen just how important our green and blue spaces are for people’s mental health and wellbeing. However, the pandemic has also highlighted once again the sheer amount of plastic pollution that enters into the environment choking these treasured natural places.

With the Environment Bill the government has a once in a generation opportunity to tackle this pollution at source by setting ambitious plastic pollution reduction targets. On behalf of ocean lovers all over the UK we are calling on the Prime Minister to take bold action on plastic for the benefit of people and the planet.

– Amy Slack, Head of Campaigns and Policy at Surfers Against Sewage

Click here to view the letter sent to the Prime Minister. 

Join us in our campaign for Clear Access, Clear Waters. Find out more! With this campaign we're not just campaigning for access, we're also campaigning to clean up our waterways, promote paddle cleanups and how you can get involved, and educate and campaign for better water quality and dispel invasive non native species too!