Thank you for contacting me about plastic waste.
Without urgent action to cut demand, it is estimated 34 billion tonnes of plastic will have been manufactured globally by 2050. I am glad to tell you that 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. I also welcome the Chancellor’s announcement in the 2018 Budget of a consultation on plans to introduce a new tax on the manufacture or import of plastic packaging composed of less than 30 per cent recycled material, which 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. A consultation on restricting the sale of plastic straws with exemptions for straws used for medical reasons, drink stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds has now closed. The responses will be examined and action decided upon in due course. There will be a further consultation on a plan under development for a deposit return scheme for drinks containers.
Demand for single-use plastic will be cut. All consumer single use plastics will be removed from central government estate, and 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 will demonstrate international leadership, doing more to help developing nations tackle pollution and reduce plastic waste, including through the Commonwealth and UK aid.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.