Wales proposes ban on common single-use plastics

Julie James, Welsh Minister for Climate Change, has released a statement calling for the most commonly littered common single-use plastics to be banned – including polystyrene takeaway containers, plastic straws and single-use plastic bags.

plastic cupA draft plan has been published showing the proposed scope and direction of the bill before its formal introduction in the autumn, where it will be laid before the Senedd.

The bill will ban the following: cups, cutlery, drink-stirrers, lids for cups or takeaway food containers, straws, plates, takeaway food containers, balloon sticks, carrier bags, cotton buds, and any product made of oxodegradable plastic.

However, exemptions apply to certain plastic items. Straws, for instance, will be free from the ban in situations where they are sold by retail pharmacy businesses or if they are being purchased for health and disability reasons. Caregivers will be provided with straws free of charge if looking after someone who requires them for the same reasons.

The bill also lays out exemptions for carrier bags which have maximum dimensions of 125 x 125mm, and do not have a gusset or handles. Carrier bags with a ‘size commensurate to the size or nature of the items to be carried’, supplied with the purpose of carrying those items, will also be excluded from the ban.

Such items that may require these carrier bags include: raw fish, meat or poultry, food for human or animal consumption that is unpackaged, medicinal products, and unpackaged seeds, bulbs, corms, or rhizomes.

The Minister announced the bill in a speech on 15 August. She 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.

“This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Senedd returns I would be happy to do so.”