Skip to main content

Parliament's ambitious plastic plans unveiled

15 May 2018

Image of UK Parliament portcullis

Today, Tuesday 15 May, the UK Parliament announces a comprehensive range of steps to drastically reduce its consumption of single-use plastics by 2019.

From coffee cups and straws to plastic bags and water bottles, these measures will virtually eliminate single-use avoidable plastics from both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, replacing them with compostable alternatives or reusable options.

From Summer 2018, Parliament will stop purchasing non-recyclable disposable cups, instead opting for a compostable alternative. To encourage long-term behaviour change away from single-use items, a 25p charge will be added to hot drinks served in the new compostable cups. Reusable coffee cups will be available to buy, and incentives will be offered to customers who refill them.

From Summer 2018, plastic bottles of mineral water will no longer be on sale in Parliament, immediately removing 125,000 plastic bottles from our waste annually. Instead, the availability of water dispensers will be increased.

Parliament currently gets through around 335,000 sachets of condiments per year. The House of Lords has already discontinued their use, and now the House of Commons will follow suit. From Summer 2018, customers at catering venues across Parliament will serve themselves sauces from refillable containers, eradicating the need for plastic sachets.

Compostable alternatives will replace all disposable plastic items used in catering venues, from cutlery and salad containers to take away food boxes and plastic tumblers. These new items will be captured in a new waste stream, ensuring they can be recycled effectively.

In 2019 plastic carrier bags will be phased out in retail outlets on the Parliamentary Estate. Instead, paper carrier bags will be available, alongside the branded fabric shopping bags which are already available to buy. A green stationery catalogue will help to ensure that office based staff can contribute to sustainability as they work.

Revised procurement procedures will be implemented to ensure that Parliament's suppliers consider the environmental impact of packaging.  Reusable packaging solutions will be trialled in our warehouses and for our deliveries, reducing single-use avoidable plastics even further.

These actions form part of a wider strategy to reduce the impact of the organisation on the natural environment, including ambitious targets around energy efficiency, water consumption and reducing waste, together with a sustainable catering supplies policy.

Further information

1. The full list of measures to be implemented are as follows:
a. Eliminate sales of water in plastic bottles.
b. Introduce a 25p additional cost on hot drinks purchased in disposable cups (for a trial period).
c. Sell reusable drinks cups to encourage behaviour change away from single-use disposables.
d. Incentivise use of reusable cups through additional loyalty rewards in the House of Commons and continued discounts in the House of Lords.
e. Introduce fixed condiment sauce dispensers in the House of Commons (the House of Lords has already discontinued individual condiment sachets).
f. Substitute disposable catering items (including plastic-lined coffee cups) for compostable alternatives and introduce a compostable waste stream (including purchase of 800 additional bins).
g. Replace plastic drinks tumblers with compostable cups across both Houses.
h. Replace plastic carrier bags with paper ones in retail outlets.
i. Implement a ‘green stationery' catalogue.
j. Produce procedures for incorporating the environmental impact of packaging into the weighting of relevant procurement and tender exercises.
k. Pilot a re-usable packaging ‘totes' scheme for deliveries.
2. For more information about sustainability and environmental performance in Parliament, please visit:
3. The House of Commons responsible catering policy is available here:


Related news