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Welsh Government Introducing Single-Use Plastic Ban

Following a consultation that took place in 2020, the Welsh government has proposed a ban on many common single-use plastic items. It was said in the announcement that this would be the most comprehensive legislation introduced by any of the UK nations on single-use plastics.

Under the Bill, ‘The Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products) (Wales) Bill’, it will be an offence in Wales to supply or offer to supply littered and unnecessary disposable single-use plastic products to consumers.

Single-Use Plastic Ban

The single-use plastic items to be banned include:

  • Plates
  • Cutlery
  • Drinking straws
  • Stirrers
  • Balloon sticks
  • Plastic stemmed cotton buds
  • Expanded and foamed extruded polystyrene cups
  • Polystyrene lids for cups and fast-food containers
  • Expanded and foamed extruded polystyrene fast-food containers
  • All oxo-degradable plastic products
  • Thin single-use plastic carrier bags

There will be situations where exceptions apply to allow these items; for example, single-use plastic straws will still be allowed for pharmaceutical and healthcare applications. Thin single-use carrier bags will also be allowed within certain dimensions, or when designed and used for specific purposes such as for raw fish or meat products.

So far just a draft of the proposal has been published to outline the parameters of the bill before its formal introduction to the Senedd (Welsh Parliament) in the autumn. 

Welsh Government Climate Change Minister

The Welsh Minister for Climate Change, Julie James, announced the Bill in a speech given on 15th August. James said, “I am pleased to announce that today I am publishing a draft of The Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products) (Wales) Bill… The bill proposes to ban or restrict the sale of some of the most commonly littered single-use plastics in Wales.”

Organisations such as Cardiff Rivers Group and Cardiff Harbour Authority report that they collect around 500 tonnes of litter every year, with much of it consisting of these single-use items. The Welsh government emphasises how important reducing plastic use, especially of single-use plastics, is going to be in safeguarding the environment, reducing carbon emissions and combatting climate change.

James also said, “With a Team Wales effort, we have to say no to the single-use item culture, so we avoid leaving a toxic legacy of plastic for future generations to deal with. By thinking differently, making lifestyle changes and choosing re-useable products, we can save money and help fight the devastating impacts of climate change.”

Keep Wales Tidy’s Deputy Chief Executive, Louise Tambini, added, “Keep Wales Tidy welcomes legislation to ban single-use plastics. It is a positive step on our journey towards truly transforming the way we consume plastics and reduce waste as a nation. Crucially, it paves the way for industry to move away from polluting practices which are damaging our environment and harming our wildlife.”

The Welsh government has said it will continue to work with businesses, industry leaders, academics and charities and other third sector bodies to inform, guide and develop future policies.

Let’s Recycle It

This news excites us here at Let’s Recycle It Ltd; we are always glad to hear news of steps being taken to reduce plastic pollution. We have all become too used to using products designed with disposability in mind; bans such as this give us the opportunity to start making fundamental shifts away from single-use and towards reusability and recyclability.

We welcome this legislation, but we should not allow ourselves or our governments to become complacent because of it. When we take steps such as this, we should use it to build momentum; it is an opportunity not only to reduce single-use plastic items, but to educate businesses and the general public and to pave the way to the next piece of legislation designed to protect the environment.

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