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Single-use plastics like polystyrene takeaway containers, plastic straws and single use plastic bags are to be banned in Wales. The Welsh Government has published its draft plan for a law banning or restricting the sale of some of the most commonly littered single-use plastics in Wales.
The draft bill will be laid before the Senedd in the autumn as the Welsh Government presses ahead with its intention first revealed in 2020 to abolish more single-use plastics. As yet, how the ban will be enforced has not been confirmed but the draft legislation suggests that anyone selling the banned plastics in future could be fined and that local authorities will have the power to carry out test purchases and raid premises.
Single-use plastic cups, cutlery, drink-stirrers, lids for cups or takeaway food containers, straws, plates, takeaway food containers, balloon sticks, carrier bags, cotton buds and products made of oxo-degradable plastics are all included in the list of items that would be covered by the new law. But certain items will be exempt on various grounds, for example, if they are used for health or disability reasons or their purpose is connected to the provision of medical care or treatment.
Single use plastic bags are also included on the prohibited list although there are proposed exemptions for many items including medical products, animal feed and raw meat or poultry as well as unpackaged food for human or animal consumption.
In a statement on Monday, Minister for Climate Change Julie James MS said: “I am pleased to announce that today I am publishing a draft of The Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products) (Wales) Bill. Many people in Wales are already taking action to reduce our reliance on single-use plastics, changing habits and making products and services more sustainable.
“As a Government we are committed to supporting their efforts. The Bill will be the first step in a programme of measures aimed at tackling plastic pollution and delivering our Programme for Government commitment to abolish commonly littered single-use plastic products.
“Members across the Senedd have been calling for urgent action to curb the use of non-essential and non-medical single-use plastics, and I look forward to working with all parties to ensure that action on plastics is as ambitious as possible, building on our common concerns and those of the communities we represent.
“The Bill proposes to ban or restrict the sale of some of the most commonly littered single-use plastics in Wales… The aim of publishing a draft of the Bill today is to give Senedd Members and interested stakeholders an opportunity to see the proposed scope and direction of the Bill before its formal introduction in the autumn.
“It is not published for further consultation at this stage. Work continues on the preparation of the Bill and there are likely to be changes before it is introduced to the Senedd. This is not therefore a final version. I look forward to working with Senedd Members on the provisions of the Bill during scrutiny after the Bill is introduced in the autumn.”
What does ‘single-use’ mean?
“Single-use” in relation to a plastic product, means a product that is not designed or manufactured to be used for the purpose of which it was designed or manufactured more than once (or on more than one occasion) before being disposed of.
Why a ban on single-use plastics?
Plastic products are often difficult to recycle and persist for many years. As a result, they begin to collect on our streets, in the countryside and on our beaches.
Once they do break down, they can cause harm to wildlife, with growing evidence indicating that plastic can be found in fish, shellfish, sea birds and marine mammals – some of which are part of the human food chain. Research shows plastic in the environment attracts and absorbs other pollutants, such as heavy metals, making it even more dangerous to animals, microbes and plants which come into contact with it.
Oxo-degradeable plastics are also included. These are often marketed as being degradeable as they break up into smaller particles, however the plastic particles never decompose as compostable materials would.