Recycling of plastics “doesn’t work” and “isn’t the answer” to the threat of global climate change, said Boris Johnson.
Responding to children’s questions ahead of the COP26 climate summit, the prime minister said plastic reuse “is not starting to address the problem”.
Instead, he said, “we must all reduce the use of plastic.”
The Recycling Association said the premier has “completely lost the texture of the plastic”.
Simon Ellin of the association told BBC Radio 4’s World at One program that Johnson’s comments were “very disappointing” and in conflict with government policy.
During the special event organized by Downing Street, Johnson also jokingly suggested that we feed humans animals to “restore nature”.
He told an 8-12-year-old audience that instead of relying on recycling, people should cut down on their consumption of plastic products.
Tanya Steele, CEO of the World Wide Fund for Nature, told the event: “We have to reduce, we have to reuse – I think we have to do some recycling, PM, and have a system to do it.”
But the premier added: “It doesn’t work”.
When questioned later on Johnson’s comments, his official spokesperson said the prime minister continued to encourage money laundering, even though he said relying on it alone would be a “bogus hoax.”
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There are plans to increase recycling in England, which according to the government “generally results in lower carbon emissions than producing products from virgin materials”.
“The priority goes to preventing the creation of waste in the first place, followed by preparing the waste for reuse; to recycling and then to recovery”, the waste management plan for England said.
The most recent data for England showed a 45.5% recycling rate for household waste. Waste policy is largely set by decentralized administrations in the UK.
Each council in the UK collects its plastic recycling differently. A BBC analysis in 2018 showed that there were 39 different sets of rules for what can be put into plastic recycling collections.
“Bring back nature”
Steele said she believes “we must bring back nature” and added, “97% of the mass of mammals on this planet is made up of humans and our animals, our pets. Only 3% is left to the wild state “.
Mr. Johnson said he was “so sad” and joked: “We could feed some of the humans the animals.”
Steele replied: “We could vote later and ask if there are any candidates.”
The prime minister criticized the beverage giant Coca-Cola for being among the 12 big companies “that produce the vast majority of the world’s plastic”.
The company sells more than 100 billion disposable plastic bottles every year, causing problems in countries too small to effectively recycle them, BBC Panorama found.
Johnson also signaled that the government does not want to support new coal mines, as ministers come under pressure to prevent the opening of a site in Cumbria.
And within days of the start of COP26 in Glasgow next week, the Prime Minister said it was “tap and go” if the summit would bring progress.
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