Plastic Pollution

The Resources and Waste Strategy for England sets out the Government’s plans to reduce, reuse, and recycle more plastic and Ministers have committed to work towards all plastic packaging on the market being recyclable or reusable by 2025.

Significant progress has already been made to address plastic pollution, including a ban on microbeads and restricting the supply of plastic straws, plastic drink stirrers, and plastic-stemmed cotton buds. The use of single-use carrier bags in supermarkets has reduced by over 98 per cent.

Further, restrictions on a range of single-use plastics, including plastic plates, trays, bowls, cutlery, balloon sticks and certain types of polystyrene cups and food containers have now come into force. I understand that England uses 2.7 billion items of single-use cutlery and over 700 million single-use plates per year, but only 10 per cent are recycled. This new ban is the next step in cracking down on harmful plastic waste.

Through the Environment Act 2021, the Government has set a target is to halve residual waste by 2042. This refers to waste that is sent to landfill, put through incineration, or used in energy recovery in the UK or overseas. This is an intentionally broad target, which will include the most environmentally harmful materials like plastics, rather than banning a single type of material and risk producers moving to a different, more harmful material.