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Welsh government implements ban on single-use plastics in a bid to achieve national net zero

#Welsh government implements ban on single-use plastics in a bid to achieve national net zero

02 Nov 2023 — The Welsh government’s ban on various single-use plastic items has come into force with the start of this month. The Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products) (Wales) Act 2023 criminalizes the supply or offer of (including for free) selected single-use plastic products to consumers.

The legislation aims to curtail the flow of plastic waste into the environment. Climate Change Minister Julie James has emphasized that this act is an integral part of the Welsh government’s comprehensive response to the climate and nature emergencies.

The government details that public support for the ban has been positive, with more than 87% of the population endorsing the initiative. The following single-use plastic items are banned from being sold anywhere in Wales: Plates, cutlery, drinks stirrers, cups made of expanded or foamed extruded polystyrene, takeaway food containers made of expanded or foamed extruded polystyrene, balloon sticks, plastic-stemmed cotton buds and drinking straws.

“This is the first step in phasing out the need for unnecessary single-use plastic being used and sold in Wales,” says James. “We’re committed to eradicating single-use plastic and our next phase will see the banning of plastic single-use carrier bags, polystyrene lids for cups and food containers and products made of oxo-degradable plastic, which will come into force before the end of the Senedd term.”

Phase 2 of the bans on single-use plastic products will be introduced by Spring 2026.

Climate crackdown
Many businesses in Wales have embraced the change by transitioning to reusable products or substituting plastic with more eco-friendly alternatives. Moreover, in 2024-25, the national statutory recycling target will be raised to 70% from the current 64%.

The government is also addressing plastic-based wet wipes, which can clog drains, contribute to flooding and introduce microplastic fibers into the environment. Wales has also vowed to proceed with its plans for a deposit return scheme (DRS) by 2025, regardless of the UK government’s refusal to exclude glass from Scotland’s DRS plans.  

Additionally, the Welsh town of Brecon rolled out a “first-of-its-kind” digital DRS (DDRS) in July. 

“DDRS promises to deliver higher return rates and be more impactful in changing consumer habits than a conventional DRS. It is enabled through more return points at more convenient locations and smartphone technology,” Duncan Midwood, co-founder of the DDRS Alliance, told Packaging Insights. 

The Climate Change Minister concludes, “if we all take a ‘Team Wales’ approach and look to reuse, recycle and repair more, it’ll help create a greener future for generations to come.”

By Radhika Sikaria

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