A job I couldn’t refuse! MP becomes shadow waste and recycling minister

Ipswich MP Sandy Martin. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Ipswich MP Sandy Martin. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

It could be the most rubbish job in politics - but Sandy Martin believes his new frontbench brief on recycling will not be a waste of time.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wanted someone to take on the role of shadow waste and recycling minister to “urgently” deal with what he described as a “plastics crisis which is choking our oceans and damaging people’s health”.

He found someone who would not ‘refuse’ to do it in Ipswich MP Sandy Martin, who said he wanted to “bring forward policies for meaningful, systemic change on plastics, waste and recycling and to hold the government to account on their haphazard and short-termist approach”.

The role may spark one or two jokes - but rather than being a road to the political scrapheap, Mr Martin says it is an important job with a chance to make a difference in a key policy area.

What happens to our waste is an issue which has challenged governments and infuriated campaigners for decades, with huge concerns about the amount of waste that is sent to landfill.

Suffolk itself has even pledged to become the country’s greenest county by pledging to recycle more than anywhere else in the land - although its ambitions were hit by figures earlier this year which showed the area was recycling less than four years ago.

“I don’t think the government have ever taken this issue as seriously as they could have done,” Mr Martin said.

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“I will be calling for more understanding of not only which bits of our waste go where, but what happens to them. We don’t have a comprehensive understanding of what happens to our waste.

“People have a right to know that if they have made an effort to recycle something, it’s actually recycled properly.

“I want us to be up there as the best, the least wasteful and most recycling country - that’s the aspiration.

“There is an urgent need to move beyond the piecemeal, ‘campaign of the month’ approach from the government on plastics and work towards a whole-systems approach to reform our entire waste and recycling infrastructure.

“Dumping waste abroad where much of it ends up in the ocean is not a sustainable solution.”

Mr Martin will have to fit his shadow front bench duties alongside his constituency role - but said: “I will do my best to stay in touch with what’s going on in Ipswich and take up as many issues as I possibly can.”

Mr Corbyn added: “As a measure of how seriously we are taking this issue, I’m pleased to appoint Sandy Martin as our new shadow minister for waste and recycling.”