Posted: Tue 16th Aug 2022

Widespread support for ban of single use plastics in Wales

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Aug 16th, 2022

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A consultation into banning many single-use plastics in Wales has received broad support.

The Welsh Government intends to introduce a ‘A Bill on Single Use Plastics’ which will ban or restrict the sale of commonly littered items, such as plastic straws and cutlery as part of its second year of legislative programme.

It is hoped that the Bill will help put a stop to wide scale littering and reduce the impact on the environment.

More than 3,500 people across Wales took part in a Welsh Government consultation last year, showing support for the proposals to ban many commonly used items such as cotton buds, drinks stirrers, straws for balloons and food and drink cartoons made of EPS (produced from polystyrene).

The results of the consultation have now been released, which Julie James MS, Minister for Climate Change said shows “there is strong support for our legislative proposals, with many urging us to go further.”

Many participants highlighted how small changes, such as reducing the use of such plastic items, will have a big impact in the volume of waste affecting wildlife and marine life.

Others called for the Welsh Government to go further with the ban and consider including the likes plastic bottles, disposable razors, plastic ties, cellophane wrappers and glitter / balloons.

However concerns were raised about the impact a wide-scale ban on single use plastics such as cutlery, straws and stirrers would have on some people in the community.

For example rigid straws made of metal or glass can pose a potential injury risk for some disabled people and paper straws were inadequate for hot drinks.

One participant said: “Disabled and very ill people need straws and paper ones don’t work in such circumstances whilst metal ones are hazardous and multiple use plastic ones are very difficult to clean properly. During my mum’s recent and sadly terminal illness, we struggled to find straws for her to be able to drink.”

Some manufacturers also highlighted an increase in demand for single use items from the NHS due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The consultation also asked whether wet wipes should be banned in future proposals or whether there are measures that could be introduced to address them.

There was “very strong” support for the inclusion of wet wipes in any future legislation, with some calling for them to be banned at the same time as plastic straws and stirrers.

However others said there were alternatives, such as “targeting products advertised as flushable”,which did not biodegrade or break down in the same way as toilet tissue.

There were also calls to maintain the use of wet wipes for hygiene purposes, with participants highlighting their use for small children, disabled and elderly people.

Instead better regulations on the term “flushable”, an Extended Producer Responsibilty scheme, taxation on producers and switching to bamboo wipes or washable cloths were listed as preferred alternatives to a ban.

Julie James MS, Minister for Climate Change, said: “Urgent change is needed in both our use of plastics and the law regarding their sale to avoid a toxic legacy being left for future generations.

“Many people in Wales are already taking action to reduce our reliance on single use plastics, changing habits and making products and services more sustainable.

“As a government we are committed to supporting their efforts. This includes using the powers available to us to abolish the use of more single use plastics and encouraging more communities and businesses to make positive changes that reduce plastic waste.

“Plastic products are often difficult to recycle, frequently disposed of inappropriately and persist for many years, resulting in them accumulating on our streets, in our countryside and on our beaches.

“Once they do break down, they cause harm to our wildlife, with growing evidence of plastic being found in fish, shellfish, sea birds and marine mammals, some of which are part of the human food chain.

“Research shows plastic in the environment attracts and absorbs other pollutants, such as heavy metals, making it even more dangerous to the animals, microbes and plants which come into contact with it.

“The long-lasting, wide-ranging, uncertain and rapidly accumulating impacts of plastic pollution demands a radical and resolute approach.”

The minister added: “Shifting away from using plastics will require us to change our habits, to become used to accessing products and services in different ways.

“Such change is entirely possible, as many innovative businesses and enthusiastic communities across Wales demonstrate to us every day.

“We are mindful of the fact that some people and businesses will find the changes more difficult than others and will need time and support.

“There is, however, an urgent need to accelerate the rate of change in order to prevent creating environmental damage at significant cost to present and future generations.

“Equally, there are opportunities for local economic benefit, for communities to come together around the desire for a cleaner local environment.”

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