The Lib Dems have backed an international treaty to reduce the production, consumption and trade in the building blocks of plastic.
The party, meeting at its conference in Brighton, said the policy builds on its opposition to fracking. Plastics are produced from chemicals sourced almost entirely from fossil fuels, particular natural gas liquids or the products of oil refining.
Ineos, the UK’s largest shale gas licence holder, has said it hopes its onshore sites will, in future, produce ethane for use in plastics manufacture. The company already imports ethane from fracking sites in the US for its plastics facility at Grangemouth.
Lib Dem delegates called on the government to start negotiations within the UN for a legally-binding treaty on plastics. This should include phased reductions in the production, consumption and trade of virgin feedstock, they said. It should also encourage the reuse and recycling of plastic.
Steve Mason, of Frack Free United, welcomed the vote:
“Yet again the politicians waking up. Having policy-makers calling for the reduction of production and trade in virgin feedstock, i.e. fracked oil and gas is yet another step to stopping fracking in its tracks. The Frack Free campaign is working tirelessly at the conferences to solidify political opposition across the political spectrum. ”
Graham Neale, chair of the Green Liberal Democrats said:
“The idea of extracting gas from under people’s homes to make plastics is plain wrong. We are a party of arguments based on evidence, and determined to oppose this.”
Speaking after the debate, the former Lib Dem leader, Tim Farron, said:
“The problem with plastics is not only on our shores. It is a problem that impacts the environment, communities and wildlife across the globe.
“The Government therefore has a duty to lead from the front and start weaning the world off plastics. But instead of leadership on the environment, all this Conservative Government offers is empty words.”