Wales Set for 2021 Single-Use Plastic Ban

May 10, 2020
Wales Set for 2021 Single-Use Plastic Ban

Quick summary:

  • Welsh government aligns with EU standards with proposed ban on single-use plastics by 2021
  • Plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery and plates, some carrier bags, and cotton buds all set to be outlawed
  • Plans are part of Beyond Recycling, the Welsh plan to be zero-waste by 2050

The Welsh Government has confirmed plans to ban single-use plastics by 2021, in an initiative that brings the country into line with standards set by the EU.

Under the new proposals, which are subject to a consultation in the months ahead, the following items are expected to be restricted across Wales by the end of next year:

  • Plastic straws and stirrers
  • Plastic-stemmed cotton buds
  • Balloon sticks
  • Disposable plastic plates and cutlery
  • Food and drinks containers of expanded polystyrene
  • Oxo-degradable plastics, including some carrier bags

Whilst the Scottish Government intends to follow Wales, these measures go further than the UK’s own central guidelines. Meanwhile, the state-wide plans, which include an outright ban only on plastic straws, stirrers, and cotton buds, have been delayed until October due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“The single use plastics we want to ban are hard to recycle and often found on the beaches and seas around our coast, blighting our beautiful country and harming our natural and marine environments”, Hannah Blythyn, the Welsh Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government, said.

“It is vital we don’t throw away our future – which is why we believe taking this direct action will have a significant impact on changing people’s behaviour and make them think about their waste when ‘on-the-go’.”

Whilst Wales has the third highest recycling rate in the world, studies by the Waste and Resources Action Programme have shown that ‘at home’ recycling is much more common than recycling ‘on-the-go’.

With a 2019 Welsh Government study showing nearly a third of items littered being plastic-based, the ban’s aim is to “prevent litter from occurring in the first place”, according to the government’s announcement.

The ban on ‘Highly Littered Single Use Plastics’ comes as part of the Welsh Government’s Beyond Recycling strategy, which aims to achieve a zero-waste, carbon neutral circular economy by 2050. According to the Government, these proposals would make Wales a world leader in recycling.

The EU recently reaffirmed their own commitment to a 2021 ban on single-use plastics, despite pressure to delay the move due to Coronavirus. 

Photo by Ian Cylkowski on Unsplash