Thank you for contacting me about reducing our plastic consumption.
I do appreciate the concerns you have raised, and I agree that we need to do all we can to encourage people to reduce, recycle and reuse waste. As a member of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, this is an issue with which I take particular interest.
Without urgent action to cut demand, it is estimated 34 billion tonnes of plastic will have been manufactured globally by 2050. The 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.
Further, my 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, with exemptions to ensure that those with medical needs or a disability are able to continue to access plastic straws. 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.
In regards to your concerns about waste exports, I was elected on a manifesto which pledged to ban the export of all plastic waste to non-OECD countries and I would like to reassure you that my ministerial colleagues remain committed to clamping down on illegal waste exports. I know that ministers plan to introduce tougher controls on illegal waste exports, and the Environment Bill includes a power to introduce mandatory electronic tracking of waste which will make it harder for criminals to obtain and export waste illegally. I understand that a consultation on this will be launched this year.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.