Wales announces single-use plastics ban

The Welsh Government is set to ban a range of single-use plastics, with Minister given the power to add or remove products if supported by the Senedd. In an announcement, it said that Wales will become the first country in the UK to introduce such comprehensive legislation.

Welsh flagUnder the Bill, it will become an offence to supply – or offer to supply – littered and unnecessary disposable single-use plastic products to consumers in Wales. Local authorities will be provided with powers to enforce this offence.

The list of banned single-use plastics includes:

  • Cutlery
  • Plates
  • Stirrers
  • Drinking straws – this product has an exemption for health needs
  • Plastic stemmed cotton buds
  • Balloon sticks
  • Expanded and foamed extruded polystyrene fast-food containers
  • Expanded and foamed extruded polystyrene cups
  • Polystyrene lids for all cups and fast-food containers
  • Thin plastic single-use carrier bags
  • All products made of oxo-degradable plastic

The Welsh Government says it will continue to work with industry, businesses, third sector bodies, academic, and others to help develop future policies. The Bill follows a 2020 consultation which highlighted that all have non-plastic or reusable alternatives.

The Government’s announcement notes the importance of plastic reduction in progress towards net-zero and minimising climate impacts. Reportedly, around 500 tonnes of litter are collected each year by organisations such as Cardiff Rivers Group and Cardiff Harbour Authority, much of this material being plastic.

Julie James, Minister for Climate Change, said: "This is a big moment in our journey towards a plastic-free Wales. Single-use plastic products are often seen littered in our streets, parks and seas. Not only are they unsightly, but they have a devastating impact on our wildlife and environment.

"With a Team Wales effort, we have to say no to the single-use item culture, so we avoid leaving a toxic legacy of plastic for future generations to deal with. By thinking differently, making lifestyle changes and choosing re-usable products, we can save money and help fight the devastating impacts of climate change."

Louise Tambini, Deputy Chief Executive of Keep Wales Tidy, added: "Keep Wales Tidy welcomes legislation to ban single-use plastics. It is a positive step on our journey towards truly transforming the way we consume plastics and reduce waste as a nation.

"Crucially, it paves the way for industry to move away from polluting practices which are damaging our environment and harming our wildlife.

"We hope that the powers granted in the Bill will allow Wales to respond to emerging threats of other single-use products as consumer trends continue to evolve."