Thank you for contacting me about the issue of plastic waste.
I agree that we need to do all we can to encourage people to recycle and to stop producing so much plastic waste in the first place. We must all be more ‘resource efficient’, which not only eases pressure on the environment and our stocks of natural resource but reduces costs too, boosting productivity. Where waste is produced, wherever possible we must ensure it is recycled. As a member of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, and with a background in agricultural plastic recycling, this is an issue in which I take a keen interest.
The Government’s Resources and Waste Strategy sets out plans to reduce, reuse, and recycle more plastic than we do now. The target is to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste throughout the life of the Government's 25 Year Environment Plan, but for the most problematic plastics ministers are going faster and have committed to work towards all plastic packaging placed on the market being recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.
To keep products in circulation for longer ministers are taking steps through the Environment Bill to require products to be designed to be durable, repairable, and recyclable, as well as legislating for the use of extended producer responsibility schemes in a way that incentivises more resource efficient design. The Bill also includes powers to enable other commitments to be delivered which will improve the quantity and quality of the materials we recycle. These include commitments to implement a Deposit Return Scheme for drinks containers and the introduction of consistent recycling collections across the country.
Ministerial colleagues have announced key details of the world leading Plastic Packaging Tax. 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. Building on the microbeads ban, restrictions on the supply of plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds came into force on 1st October 2020. Finally, since the plastic bag charge was first introduced in 2015, the Government has successfully prevented billions of plastic bags being sold and ending up in the ocean and environment. This charge has now been increased to 10p and extended to all retailers. It is anticipated that this extension will decrease the use of single-use carrier bags by 70-80 per cent in small and medium-sized businesses.
I hope this response has gone some way in reassuring you of the government’s commitment to reducing plastic waste.
Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention.