Press Release: Reducing single use plastic in wales
A once in a lifetime opportunity
Marking the closure of the ‘Reducing single-use plastic in Wales’ public consultation plastic campaigners, City to Sea, have today said this is a “once in a lifetime opportunity for Wales to be a world leader in fighting plastic pollution”.
The new proposals from the Welsh government will phase out the use of unnecessary, highly littered, single-use plastics in Wales. City to Sea has responded to the consultation urging the Welsh Government to go further than existing suggestions.
Commenting, City to Sea’s CEO Rebecca Burgess said,
“For over two years, the Welsh Government has supported Refill, a campaign that stops the need to buy pointless plastic water bottles. Now they have a once in a lifetime opportunity to be a world leader in turning the tide against plastic pollution for good. I encourage them to not just do the minimum to comply with new European-wide standards, but think creatively to make sure they are at the very least matching other country’s plans.
“There is so much more that we could be doing. From banning takeaway packaging being used on-site in hotels, restaurants, and cafes; to setting legally binding targets to reduce the sale of single-use plastic bottles and introducing a levy on all throwaway coffee cups. These are things we know work and are already either happening or being proposed by neighbouring countries. We have the evidence – but do we have the political will?”
Read our full response to the consultation
1) Do you support our proposal to ban each of the single-use plastic items suggested?
Yes, we support the ban but would urge the Welsh Government to go further than just those items listed in the EU Single-Use Plastics Directive. These items should be the bare minimum though, not an aspiration. The Welsh Government must use this opportunity to become a true world leader. We believe this proposal is pivotal if the Welsh Government are to achieve its commitment to become a zero-waste country by 2050 and the world’s first Refill Nation.
In the answers below, we have highlighted a few examples of neighbouring countries who are already going further. Wales must at least match these policy commitments. There is a chance to showcase Wales on the world stage as it did with the carrier bag charge.
- Do you agree the potential environmental and social benefits of our proposals will outweigh the potential impacts on people in Wales?
Absolutely, eight million metric tons of plastic per year are dumped into waterways and make their way into the ocean. We can live without many of these single-use plastics that end up on beaches and in the oceans, affecting animals and fish and almost impossible to remove.
We would propose that water drinking fountains become compulsory instalments in new build locations where there are planned play parks and social green areas, as well as in sports and recreation grounds and transport hubs. We would also propose for Refill Stations to become mandatory at marathons and festivals, building on the success of the Refill Stations at Cardiff Half Marathon and at the Royal Welsh Showground.
People in Wales are concerned about plastic pollution and despite the Covid-19 crisis, we are still focused on trying to reduce single-use plastics. Communities and local businesses want to see positive action which is evident with the success of schemes such as Refill, but we need Welsh Government to lead on this issue – not follow.
- Do you agree with our assessment of the potential benefits and impacts our proposals will have on businesses, including manufacturing, in Wales?
We support the Wales Circular Economy Strategy that reflects the waste hierarchy and emphasises avoiding waste as much as possible. We would encourage the Welsh Government to promote preventative and reuse alternatives first, in keeping with the waste hierarchy, to avoid businesses simply switching from one problematic material to another
- Do you agree the proposed timescale for the implementation of the bans provides sufficient time for businesses of all types to adapt?
Yes – if anything it is not tight enough. Consumers in Wales are already starting to look for and buy from sustainable businesses. There has been extensive consultation in the lead up to the EU’s adoption of the Single-Use Directive and we are currently well into the two-year transposition process. Combined, this has provided business with ample opportunity to make changes. This is reflected in many businesses proactively choosing to make changes – such as switching out plastic straws for paper ones.
We want to be able to Refill our reusable coffee cups and water bottles; and with consumer pressure mounting as well as the ban coming into place, businesses will find the sooner they adopt the easier it will be for them. We just need to look at other countries who are implementing bans on single-use plastic to know that change is possible.
We agree with Eunomia’s recommendations in their ‘Extended Producer Responsibility in Wales’ report (2018) that “The Welsh Government should conduct trials of reusable takeaway packaging, perhaps within specific areas such as covered, permanent markets in the first instance, in order to better understand consumer acceptance.”
- Are there any other items that should be included in any future policy proposals to tackle single-use plastics?
Yes, the Welsh Government should include the banning of lids for cups, packaging for fruits and vegetables, plastic sachets, and plastic confetti. We would also like Welsh Government to include that food ware used for on-site consumption in hotels, restaurants, and cafes, will have to be reusable by 2023; and by 2022 for those used in daily home meal deliveries as the French Government is proposing in their Circular Economy Bill. I would also urge the Welsh government to introduce a levy on disposable cups with a medium-term aim of banning them as the Irish government is proposing in their National Waste Policy.
We would also urge the Welsh Government to make legally binding ambitious medium-term commitments such as halving the consumption of single-use plastic water bottles and to phase-out all single-use plastics packaging by 2040, again as the French Government has. We would also urge the Welsh government to introduce a levy on disposable cups with a medium-term aim of banning them as the Irish government is proposing in their National Waste Policy.