I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention. I know how much work he does with the packaging industry, which, it has to be recognised, is indeed an important part of our economy. I welcome the fact that he recognises that this measure is much needed. Indeed, we brought the whole industry on board with us, and we listened to it. That is why we are giving this slight extension in bringing in the regulations: it was specifically at the request of the industry.
Turning to the purpose of this SI, the Government are committed to eliminating plastic waste and the terrible effects that can result from plastic being in the environment. Single-use plastic items—products that are made wholly or partly from plastic and designed to be used only once—are increasingly common, and their use and inappropriate disposal continue to raise significant environmental issues. Unlike other materials such as paper or wood, plastic can persist in the environment for hundreds of years. Therefore, if released into the environment, items such as plastic straws can endanger wildlife and damage habitats, and small pieces of plastic items can often be ingested by animals. Furthermore, plastic that escapes into the environment will eventually break down into microplastics, which are permeating our food chain as well as ending up in our soils and the sea. The full impacts of this are still being uncovered.