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Single use plastic (2017)

Request

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  1. Can you tell me how much money was spent on a) plastic cutlery; b) plastic water glasses; c) plastic straws; and d) disposable coffee cups in the financial years:
    i. 2012-13
    ii. 2013-14
    iii. 2014-15
    iv. 2015-16
    v. 2016-17
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  3. Can you tell me the quantities of a) plastic cutlery; b) plastic water glasses; c) plastic straws; and d) disposable coffee cups that were purchased in the financial years:
    i. 2012-13
    ii. 2013-14
    iii. 2014-15
    iv. 2015-16
    v. 2016-17
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Response

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  1. Can you tell me how much money was spent on a) plastic cutlery; b) plastic water glasses; c) plastic straws; and d) disposable coffee cups in the financial years 2012/13 to 2016/17.
    This information is held by the House of Commons.
    However, by providing data on the cost of these products AND the amount of products purchased would disclose the unit costs of these items, which is commercially sensitive information.  This information is therefore exempt under section 43(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) because the disclosure of this information would be prejudicial to the House’s and the third party’s commercial interests.  This is a qualified or non-absolute exemption and the public interest test applies.
    We have considered the public interest the disclosure of this information.  These factors include the importance of transparency in the decision making process relating to the spending of public money to ensure that procurement processes are conducted in an open and honest way.  It is also important for the public to see taxpayers’ money being used effectively and public authorities getting value for money for the items they purchase. 
    We have also considered the public interest in withholding this information.  Disclosure of unit prices presents a strong risk that the House's bargaining position for the future.  The House may have negotiated or been offered favourable terms by their supplier which is a perfectly acceptable way of getting the best value for tax-payer’s money.  The disclosure of this information will prejudice future discussions and commercial organisations may become reluctant to enter into further free and frank negotiations.  This would undermine the House’s ability to fulfil its role effectively and prevent it from achieving the value for money that is so important. The commercial interests of the third parties with whom we do business may also be prejudiced if details of specific prices or services are disclosed to the public and their competitors.  For these reasons we consider that the public interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in disclosure.
    Despite this exemption, we have provided the total spend on all these items for each year in the next answer.  We hope this is helpful.
     
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  3. Can you tell me the quantities of a) plastic cutlery; b) plastic water glasses; c) plastic straws; and d) disposable coffee cups that were purchased in the financial years 2012/13 to 2016/17.
    This information is held by the House of Commons.
    Quantities purchased
    I am sorry to inform you that we are unable to provide the information for disposable water glasses.  These are only used in very small quantities at various water coolers scattered around the parliamentary estate.  These are purchased occasionally by individual teams and offices as required, rather than from a central purchasing framework.  To locate and retrieve this information, we would have to ask upward of 100 teams if they held this data and then get them to search and collate their records to provide the relevant data. 
    We estimate that the cost of complying with your request would exceed the appropriate time/cost limit laid down in section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) which, for the House of Commons is £600.  Under this section the House is not obliged to comply with your request and we will not be processing your request further.  However, if you were to make a new request for a narrower category of information, it may be that we could comply with that request within the appropriate limit, although I cannot guarantee that this will be the case. For example, you could refine your request to ask for plastic cups purchased by a specific team, for which further information can be found on the parliament pages.
    Lastly, it may help you to know that the House of Commons already publishes information about sustainability measures undertaken by the Catering Team, and this is available on our website.  We hope that is useful.