I have been contacted by a lot of residents regarding plastic pollution, and the Big Plastic Count. I have signed up to this campaign, and am taking part.
I am very pleased that the Government has been doing so much to reduce the use of plastic. The Resources and Waste Strategy for England sets out the Government’s plans to reduce, reuse, and recycle more plastic than we do now. I am glad that ministers have committed to work towards all plastic packaging placed on the market being recyclable or reusable by 2025.
We have made so much progress already in addressing plastic pollution. This includes introducing one of the world’s toughest bans on microbeads in rinse-off personal care products and bringing in measures to restrict the supply of plastic straws, plastic drink stirrers, and plastic-stemmed cotton buds. The use of single-use carrier bags has been reduced in the main supermarkets by over 95 per cent with the 5p charge. I know that this has been increased to 10p and extended it to all retailers.
The Government recently consulted on proposals to ban the supply of single-use plastic plates, cutlery, and balloon sticks, and expanded and extruded polystyrene food and beverage containers, including cups. I am encouraged that ministers are committed to going further and addressing other sources of plastic pollution and ran a call for evidence to gather information on other problematic plastic items, including wet wipes, tobacco filters, sachets, and other single-use cups. The Environment Act 2021 includes a raft of new powers to address plastic pollution and litter, including a Deposit Return Scheme for drinks containers, which will recycle billions more plastic bottles and stop them being landfilled or littered. The Extended Producer Responsibility scheme for packaging will make manufacturers responsible for the full net cost of recycling their packaging waste and encourage more recyclable packaging. In addition, the Act establishes greater consistency in the recycling system and introduces new powers to make it easier to place charges on single-use plastic items that threaten our ecosystems.