The Resources and Waste strategy sets out plans to reduce plastic pollution with a target of eliminating all avoidable waste over the lifetime of the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan.
The UK’s world-leading ban on microbeads is helping to stop potentially billions of tiny pieces of plastic from entering the aquatic environment every year. As well as this, the 5p charge has been highly successful at reducing the use of single-use plastic carrier bags, doing so by over 90 per cent in the main retailers since its introduction in 2015. This charge has now been doubled to 10p and extended to all retailers. I also welcome that, following an open consultation, a ban on the supply of plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds came into force on 1 October 2020. The ban includes exemptions to ensure that those with medical needs or a disability can continue to access plastic straws.
I know that the Environment Act includes powers to enable the Government to deliver on commitments in the Resources and Waste strategy. These include commitments on extended producer responsibility; implementation of a Deposit Return Scheme for drinks containers, which is now in its second phase of consultation; and introduction of consistent recycling collections across the country. Further, single-use plastic plates, cutlery and polystyrene cups are among a raft of items that could be banned in England as part of a new public consultation, which launched in November 2021 and closed on 12 February.
Finally, the Government also announced key details of the world leading Plastic Packaging Tax at the 2020 Budget, which will help to tackle the pressing issue of plastic waste. The initial rate of the tax will be £200 per tonne and it will be paid by manufacturers and importers of plastic packaging that contains less than 30 per cent recycled plastic.