Two more New Year resolutions for ministers to cut pollution

 In Air Pollution

With many making New Year’s resolutions this month environment expert Ron Fox, of Noreus Ltd, gives two more of his green suggestions to the government to help the UK reduce our carbon footprint. 

1 Ban plastic faces masks: More than 100 million single-use surgical face masks are thrown away in the UK every week, which are enough to cover 232 football pitches.  Most end up in landfill where it will take around 450 years to decompose. 

“It is a disgrace that 1,500 tonnes of plastic waste a month is dropped on the ground blighting our streets and parks, before making their way into woods, beaches, rivers and seas,” said Ron. 

“On top of that the vast majority of surgical masks used in Britain are from China with transport making up 70 per cent of each mask’s carbon footprint. 

“The government must encourage manufacturers to switch to reusable masks which create 85 per cent less waste and have an impact of climate change that is three and a half times lower than plastic ones.  

“Yesterday plastic bags were the problem, today it’s plastic face masks. Ministers should introduce a mandatory levy on these single use facemasks. It worked very successfully with the 10p charge on single use carrier bags, where the number sold by major supermarkets went down by more than 95 per cent in England after a levy was imposed.”

2 Get back on the right lines: “My second resolution this week is that the government should invest far more this year in the railways as trains are key to helping the UK get back on track to net zero carbon emissions.

“It is ironic that our daily car journeys accounted for 27 per cent of the nation’s carbon emissions in 2019 and that since the pandemic rail journeys are down, while car use has gone up.

The European Environment Agency reckons emissions per passenger mile by car are 158 grams of CO2, by plane 285 grams and by rail 14 grams.

“Despite this the government is planning to increase rail ticket prices by 3.8 per cent in March this year, which will hardly entice people back on to the trains. 

He added: “It was good to see the reopening of the Dartmoor line from Okehampton to Exeter on November 21, 2021, after being closed for almost 50 years. But we need to see more rail links brought back into use. 

The Campaign for Better Transport have drawn up a list of 33 railway lines that could be reopened which would bring half a million people within a kilometre of a local station.

“The estimated cost is between £4.76 billion and £6.39 billion, a small amount in the whole scheme of things, but it would also help in levelling up the country. 

“Another way to encourage more passengers would be to spruce up our railway stations and make them more welcoming. 

“Travelling through Europe there is pride in their railway networks with clean stations, comfortable trains, proud staff and an efficient service.

“By comparison, our trains are overcrowded, delays almost inevitable, railway stations seem bleak and half dead while waiting rooms are locked even in the coldest weather.”

For advice about green energy contact me on 0845 474 6641 – but in the meantime have a happy and peaceful New Year.

  • Next week – green resolutions for householders. 

Caption: Masking a problem – More than 100 million single-use surgical face masks are thrown away in the UK every week.

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