New Forest East

DEFRA – POLICY ON PLASTIC WASTE [28926] - 06 July 2021

DEFRA – POLICY ON PLASTIC WASTE [28926] - 06 July 2021

Dr Julian Lewis:  To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent estimates his Department has made of the (a) ranking of the UK in the international table of plastic produced per head of population, (b) proportion of plastic waste recycled within the UK and (c) reasons for the level of recycling (i) overall and (ii) within the UK; what steps his Department has taken to recycle plastic waste since 2010; what the results were of implementing such plans; and if he will make it his policy to (A) formulate and (B) implement a nationwide policy on reduction of single-use plastic products.  [28926]

[Due for Answer on 12 July]


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment and Rural Opportunities (Rebecca Pow): In our 25 Year Environment Plan, the Government has already set out its policy of eliminating all avoidable plastic waste by the end of 2042, which will include avoidable single-use plastic waste. In December 2018 we published the Resources and Waste Strategy, which sets out how we want to achieve this and move towards a circular economy and keep resources in the system for as long as possible. We know more needs to be done, and for the most problematic plastics we are going faster – which is why we have committed to work towards all plastic packaging on the market being recyclable, reusable, or compostable by 2025.

We have made significant progress on reducing single-use plastic products. In October 2020, we introduced measures to restrict the supply of plastic straws, plastic drink stirrers, and plastic-stemmed cotton buds. The single-use carrier bag charge, which has led to a 95% reduction in the use of single-use carrier bags by the main supermarkets, has been increased to 10p and extended to all retailers to encourage customers to bring their own bags to carry shopping and reduce the volumes of single-use plastic being used. We will continue to review the latest evidence on problematic products and materials to take a systematic approach to reducing the use of unnecessary single-use plastic products, including problematic packaging materials. However, we must think carefully about introducing bans and other policy solutions to avoid unintended consequences, such as a switch to another single-use material. To note, waste and environmental policy is a devolved area and therefore devolved administrations are taking their own approach.

Whilst plastic appears separately in some of our published data sets, we do not hold statistics for all plastic waste. Plastic waste contained within the residual waste stream will appear in mixed waste categories.

We do publish information on the amount of plastic packaging that is recycled. The latest figures are for 2018 and the amount of plastic packaging recycled was 43.8%. From April 2022, plastic packaging that does not contain at least 30% recycled content will be subject to a tax of £200/tonne. The tax will provide a clear economic incentive for businesses to use recycled material in the manufacture of plastic packaging, which will create greater demand for this material. In turn, this will stimulate increased levels of recycling and collection of plastic waste, diverting it away from landfill or incineration. Further details on the development of this tax can be found at:

The Government has not made a recent estimate of how the UK compares internationally regarding plastic production per capita.