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Defra launches single-use plastics consultation

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Defra launches single-use plastics consultation

November 25, 2021 - 06:14

BRUSSELS, Nov. 25, 2021 (PPI Europe) -Single-use plastic plates, cutlery, expanded and extruded polystyrene cups and food and beverage containers could all be phased out in the UK government’s latest bid to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste. The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) this week launched its previously announced public consultation and a call for evidence to tackle other problematic plastic products.

According to estimates, UK citizens use 1.1 billion single-use plates and 4.25 billion items of single-use cutlery — most of which are plastic — per year, but only 10% are recycled upon disposal, according to Defra. Under proposals in the 12-week public consultation, businesses and consumers will need to move towards more sustainable alternatives.

However, the government is going further by also launching a separate call for evidence to address other sources of plastic pollution. This will ask stakeholders for views on tackling commonly littered plastics such as wet wipes, tobacco filters, sachets and other single-use cups, and future policy measures that could be explored include banning plastic in these items and mandatory labelling on packaging to help consumers dispose of these items correctly.

“The UK uses 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups per year, while plastic sachets are often not recycled due to their small size, which makes it hard to segregate and clean them. The government will consider how a move to sustainable alternatives can be achieved without unfairly impacting on consumers,” Defra said in a statement. “Many companies are already taking action to cut this avoidable waste, with many shops already stocking alternatives to conventional plastic wipes, and today’s move will urge more to do the same,” it added.

The Defra consultation comes a week after the passage of the Environment Act which will enable tougher action on single-use plastics in the UK. The Act includes powers to place charges on single-use items, and the call to evidence will explore whether such a charge could be placed on single use cups or sachets to encourage a shift away from throwaway culture.