Evidence invited on how to tackle UK’s plastics problem

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Photo by Marta Ortigosa: https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-holding-clear-plastic-bottle-3480494/

The House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee has launched a new inquiry that scrutinises how the UK Government intends to tackle its plastics problem, and whether its targets go far enough.

The cross-party Committee will be exploring the measures announced by the Government to achieve both its 2042 goal, and its shorter-term ambition of working towards only recyclable, reusable or compostable plastic packaging being placed on the market by 2025.

MPs will also question how alternatives to plastic can be found and supported, and what more can be done to ensure that plastic waste is not sent abroad simply to be dumped.

Neil Parish MP, Chair of the EFRA Committee, commented: “We have a plastics problem.

“Over the past 18 months, even the most environmentally conscious of us have had to resort to single-use plastics in our efforts to control the spread of COVID-19. But the tide must turn on plastic use, and fast.

“The Government has announced many new measures to combat our reliance on disposable packaging and products.

“It is essential that these measures go far- and fast- enough, and that we do not just end up exporting our problem overseas.”

According to the Committee, despite high-profile campaigns to encourage recycling and reduce plastic use, just 32% of all plastic is currently recycled.

Concerns have also been raised regarding the volume of plastic packaging waste, equivalent to three and a half Olympic swimming pools’ worth of plastics, that is exported to other countries every day, where some has been found to end up being dumped or burnt rather than recycled.

The Committee is seeking answers to the following questions, with an initial deadline of 10th September:

  1. What measures should the UK Government take to reduce the production and disposal of single-use plastics in England? Are the measures announced so far, including a ban on certain single-use plastics and a plastic packaging tax, sufficient?
  2. How should alternatives to plastic consumption be identified and supported, without resorting to more environmentally damaging options?
  3. Is the UK Government’s target of eliminating avoidable plastic waste by 2042 ambitious enough?
  4. Will the UK Government be able to achieve its shorter-term ambition of working towards all plastic packaging placed on the market being recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025?
  5. Does the UK Government need to do more to ensure that plastic waste is not exported and then managed unsustainably? If so, what steps should it take?

More information about this call for evidence and how to take part is available on the UK Parliament website.