Labour will ‘embrace circular economy’ with ‘recycling revolution’

The Labour Party ‘will embrace the circular economy’ and become the ‘Party for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’, Shadow Environment Secretary Rachael Maskell has told the party’s annual conference.

Labour will ‘embrace circular economy’ with ‘recycling revolution’Speaking at this week’s conference in Liverpool, Maskell, MP for York Central, criticised the government’s approach to the circular economy, which has seen Waste Minister Therese Coffey openly display her ambivalence towards measures being debated at the European Union towards more resource efficient business and governance across Europe.

Speaking at an Environmental Audit Committee inquiry into the ‘Future of the Natural Environment after the EU Referendum’ earlier this month, Coffey refused to completely back the circular economy, saying that while most in the industry would get ‘the general principles’, the government would prefer to focus on outcomes rather than prescriptive measures and that some proposals could end up with ‘a perverse outcome’.

However, Maskell this week was keen to give the circular economy Labour’s backing, pledging a ‘recycling revolution’ under Labour. She said: “Unlike the government, Labour will embrace the circular economy – reducing our consumption, recycling and generating energy from our waste, not turning it over to landfill.”

Food waste

The issue of food waste and security was another feature of the shadow secretary’s speech, promising that Labour would use education to improve how we consume and view food.

“We also have a poor relationship with food – where it comes from, what we eat, how much it really costs to produce, how much we need, how much we waste,” she said. “A quarter of adults are overweight or obese, families put £470 per year of food straight into the bin.

“We will change that relationship with education and labelling, better health interventions and a new food framework.”

Government “totally reckless” on Brexit planning

Maskell took up her shadow role in June, when her predecessor Kerry McCarthy resigned while criticising Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership in the lead-up to the EU referendum, the result of which she said risked ‘vital protections’ of the environment. 

During her speech at the conference, Maskell touched on the “totally reckless” government’s planning ahead of the vote to leave the EU, stating: “Since 23 June, we’ve learnt that the government made no analysis of the depth of its relationship with the EU, had no understanding of the capacity needed to re-negotiate hundreds of regulations protecting our food safety and wider environment…

“Since, we have seen nothing more than warm words and dithering. They’re not a think tank, or a policy forum, but meant to be a government leading our nation.”

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