Plastic Waste

Without urgent action to cut demand, it is estimated 34 billion tonnes of plastic will have been manufactured globally by 2050. The new 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment commits the Government to working to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste, with action at each stage of the product lifecycle: production, consumption and end of life.
Producer responsibility systems including packaging waste regulations will be reformed, which may result in extending these requirements to more products. Earlier this year, the Government launched a consultation on a world-leading tax on plastic packaging which does not contain a minimum of 30 per cent recycled content from April 2022. These plans could revolutionise the market for recycled products.
Building on the microbeads ban, Ministers are looking into whether other problematic products should be banned where there are suitable alternatives. I am pleased that following an open consultation, a ban on the supply of plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds will come into force in April 2020. The ban will include exemptions to ensure that those with medical needs or a disability are able to continue to access plastic straws. A further consultation on a plan for a deposit return scheme for drinks containers has also recently closed.
Demand for single-use plastic will be cut and the Government will soon consult on extending the highly successful single use plastic bag charge to small retailers. Businesses will be encouraged to offer new, free refill points for water bottles to be topped up, and work with retailers will explore introducing plastic-free supermarket aisles.
Lastly I am pleased that the UK has also committed a £61.4 million package of funding to boost global research and help countries across the Commonwealth stop plastic waste from entering the oceans.