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Volume 554: debated on Thursday 29 November 2012

1. What the recycling rate has been for recyclable materials on the Commons part of the estate in each of the last five years. (130611)

The percentage figures for the amount of general waste recycled or recovered by weight from the parliamentary estate in the last five financial years are as follows: 2007-08, 44%; 2008-09, 47%; 2009-10, 50%; 2010-11, 52%; and 2011-12, 53%. These figures are for the parliamentary estate as a whole, as we are not able to break down the figures by House or building. The percentages exclude batteries that are recycled but for which no weight figures are currently provided and builders’ waste. The figures include food waste, a proportion of which is being sent to an anaerobic digestion facility.

It certainly seems encouraging that the recycling rate is going in the right direction. Is my hon. Friend satisfied with the progress being made? Perhaps lessons should be learned from some of the local authorities that have far higher recycling rates than we currently do in this House.

I do not believe that we should ever be content with where we have got to on recycling. The Commission and the Management Board are doing everything in their power to increase the recycling rate. As new recycling waste streams are developed, the House works closely with its waste contractor to maximise the opportunities to increase the rate, and the House will certainly be happy to look at any other authority that is an exemplar to see what it can learn.

Will the Member representing the House of Commons Commission also look into the question of the non-recyclable items that are produced and used by the House, such as plastic wrappings and envelopes, with a view to ensuring that paper, which can be recycled more easily and cheaply, is used wherever possible?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that helpful suggestion, and we will certainly do that. I can tell him that a new collection process for office waste has recently been agreed, which will allow recyclables such as cans, plastic, paper and cardboard to be collected in one bin, with the segregation of materials taking place in a municipal recycling facility once the waste has left the estate. Clearly, development of that stream would lead us to the objective that he is seeking.