First ever global commitment to tackling single-use plastic 

This week saw the first ever global commitment by national governments towards curtailing the surging consumption of single-use plastics. The pledge happened at the United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi in Kenya.

 The non-binding declaration sets out plans to curb items like plastic bags, bottles and straws over the next decade. However, the initial wording put forward by the Indian delegation to commit to “phasing-out the most problematic single-use plastic products by 2025” was heavily watered down by a USA led group. The final text committed states to “significantly reduce” single-use plastics by 2030. 

 Our Founder, Natalie Fee broadly welcomed the commitment saying:  “This is a huge first step towards a global solution to a global problem. It was heartening to see real action plans being backed by the majority of the countries represented, but the proof will be in the delivery of these plans. With the last-minute watering down of the proposals, we’ll now be watching closely to make sure that these very first steps are implemented and acted upon.”

 She did however also join other environmentalists in expressing her disappointment in the watering down of the agreement saying:  “I was also disappointed to see how a small minority led by the United States blocked the more ambitious parts of the text and delayed negotiations. If we’re going to tackle this global problem the United States needs to join the growing consensus around tackling plastic pollution and stop pumping money into the fracking industry that fuels the plastics industry. What was agreed last Friday needs to be seen as a minimum standard that we expect of governments and we can and must do more. Change is happening but we need people, councils and businesses to keep pushing to go further faster. With 8 million pieces making their way into our oceans each day [3] our fragile planet can’t afford any more delays.”

Find out more about how you can take action on plastic pollution here. 

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They axed the plastic tax

In case you didn’t catch the news, on the 30th Nov Chancellor Philip Hammond announced that the UK will introduce a new plastic tax on the *manufacture and import* of plastic packaging that contains *less than 30% recycled* plastic during his Autumn Budget speech. It won’t be implemented for another four years and that’s subject to (another) consultation.

So not a visible tax on single-use items, like coffee cups, at point of sale, like you and almost a quarter of a million people asked for through this petition. And 31% of you went on to respond to HM Treasury’s consultation seeking views on tackling the single-use plastic issue – which had the highest government consultation response rate EVER in government history.

Despite your efforts, and our attempt to persuade the government to take meaningful action on plastic pollution now, they have chosen to ignore us. For now at least. Our sense is that this set-back in England creates political space for devolved governments in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland to take the lead. Again.

(When England said no to the 5p bag charge, the Welsh government went and did it anyway, followed by Northern Ireland, then Scotland. Finally Westminster got with the programme … and plastic bag use has since gone down by 86%.)

If you want to hear more, have a quick watch of my video response on Facebook or Twitter here.

 

Thanks for your support – the fight doesn’t stop here!

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Your signature is needed!

We’re calling for a tax on plastic

Our latest petition with 38 Degrees has over 240,000 signatures! Is yours on it? It needs you!

We’re asking the government to introduce a visible tax on throwaway (single use) plastic. Such as coffee cups, pint cups, cutlery  and take away  polystyrene at the point of sale, like the current plastic bag charge. YOU can sign it here.

People ask:

Why charge the customer? We pay enough taxes, the retailers should be held responsible!

Indeed they should, but if the charge went to the retailers experts suggest all they would do is hike up their prices, the consumer would still pay – unknowingly – and it would be business as usual with millions of single use items being used every day.

Millions of sinlge-use plastic items are used in the UK everyday

The levvy is an incentive for people to be able to refuse the charge, along with the item. Just like the plastic bag charge, which has seen an 80% reduction at large retailers where the charge is applicable.

It will also bring the conversation of plastic pollution into the wilder realm. Yes ten million people watched Blue Planet II, but that’s 60 million who didn’t. Sir David Attenborough has been talking about it all over the media, but when we look around in the ‘real world’ it’s clear to see, some places still give out ‘take away’ cups to sit in, more needs to be done!

Just days ago “The Sun revealed that Mr Hammond had privately blasted Mr Gove’s radical approach to cutting plastic waste – arguing that it wrongly targets consumers.” You can read The Sun article here.

This petition needs YOU to get behind it before the Budget, to stand behind Micheal Gove and let the government know this could prevent millions of tons of single use plastics entering our waste stream.

Read the full petition text and sign it here. A last minute rise in signatures may just be what it needs to make it happen, there’s still time to get the conversation on the table where it matters most …. and then in that suitcase!

Header photo by rawpixel on Unsplash. Cup photo by Sagar Chaudhray on Unsplash

Find out what happened in our latest blog post here. 
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