Wales set to ban carrier bags, straws and other single-use plastics
A law to ban carrier bags, straws and other single-use plastics in Wales could be passed in the Senedd after being delayed.
Plastic cutlery, plates and cotton buds could also be banned under the proposed law.
The Welsh Government says it'll "avoid leaving a toxic legacy" - but opponents claim ministers need to move quicker - as some plastic objects have already been banned elsewhere in the UK.
The Minister for Climate Change, Julie James MS, 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."
The issue of plastic waste is a common problem across Wales. It often ends up in places like Cardiff Bay, where Cardiff Harbour Authority and volunteers from organisations like Cardiff Rivers Group carry out regular clean-ups, collecting around 500 tonnes of litter each year, much of it plastic.
In recent years, the Welsh government have invested into tackling the climate and nature emergencies. Last October, the First Minister set out his target for the country to meet net zero by 2050.
However, Welsh Conservative and Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Janet Finch-Saunders MS has said that Labour ministers have been far too slow in responding to environmental issues in Wales.
“This is typical Labour - late again and chasing headlines. I’ve lost count of the number of times Labour have promised to introduce this ban only for legislation to be kicked into the long grass.
“The ban on the sale of single use plastics has already been implemented in both England and Scotland, while Labour ministers have now just decided to begin passing legislation.
“When will Labour ministers stop dragging their heels on environmental issues and face the fact that their delays are damaging Wales?” said the Shadow Minister for Climate Change.
If the Senedd passes the legislation, The Environmental Protection Bill will make it an offence to supply or offer to supply littered and unnecessary disposable single-use plastic products to consumers in Wales.
It will provide local authorities with the power to enforce the offence, and includes:
- 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 decision to include these products follows a consultation in 2020, with all having non-plastic or reusable alternatives.
The Bill will also give Ministers the power, with the support of the Senedd, to add or remove products from the list, placing Wales in the driving seat for future action.
Speaking of the Bill's expected introduction to tackle the problem, Deputy Chief Executive of Keep Wales Tidy, Louise Tambini said:
"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."