Plastic Waste

The Resources and Waste Strategy for England has set out the Government’s plans to reduce, reuse, and recycle more plastic and the Government is committed to work towards all plastic packaging on the market being recyclable or reusable by 2025. 

The Government has taken significant measures to address plastic pollution, including a ban on microbeads and restricting the supply of plastic straws, plastic drink stirrers, and plastic-stemmed cotton buds. The use of single-use plastic carrier bags in supermarkets has reduced by over 98%. Further, restrictions on a range of single-use plastics, including plastic plates, trays, bowls, cutlery, balloon sticks, and certain types of polystyrene cups and food containers have now come into force. Unfortunately, England uses 2.7 billion items of single-use cutlery and over 700 million single-use plates per year, but only 10% are recycled. This new ban is the next step in cracking down on harmful plastic waste. 

Furthermore, The Government is working to make recycling easier and wants to ensure greater consistency across England. The Government’s new Simpler Recycling system will ensure that all homes in England recycle the same materials, ending the confusion over what can be recycled. With this system, these materials will not need to be separated at home. We believe this approach will drive up recycling rates. Simpler Recycling builds a strong foundation that has the potential to end the throw-away culture. 

Additionally, through the Environment Act 2021, the Government has set a target to halve residual waste by 2042. This refers to waste that is sent to landfill, put through incineration, or used in energy recovery in the UK or overseas. This is an intentionally broad target, which will include the most environmentally harmful materials like plastics, rather than banning a single type of material and risk producers moving to a different, more harmful material. 

Finally, the Government’s Plastic Packaging Tax came into effect in April 2022 and introduced a tax of more than £200 per tonne on plastic packaging manufactured in, or imported into the UK, that does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic. This will provide a clear incentive for businesses to use recycled plastic.