Plastics: Recycling

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 12th April 2021.

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Photo of Baroness Neville-Rolfe Baroness Neville-Rolfe Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of progress towards (1) increasing recycling and reducing waste, (2) increasing recycling of plastic waste, and (3) reducing plastic waste.

Photo of Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

The Government is committed to increasing recycling rates and reducing waste, including plastics.

Our 2018 Resources and Waste Strategy outlines our commitments to:

  • eliminate avoidable waste by 2050;
  • achieve 65% recycling rate for municipal (household-like) waste by 2035;
  • work towards all plastic packaging placed on the market being recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025;
  • eliminate avoidable plastic waste by 2042.

To help us achieve this target, we have introduced legislation through the Environment Bill that will require local authorities in England to collect a core set of recyclable materials, including plastics, from households and businesses. By making recycling clearer and easier, we will better preserve material value and help to grow demand for recyclables. We are also seeking a new power in the Environment Bill to be able to place charges on other single-use plastic items to encourage businesses and citizens to shift toward more reusable products.

Together with the introduction of a Deposit Return Scheme for drinks containers, Extended Producer Responsibility for packaging and the HM Treasury's Plastic Packaging Tax on plastic packaging with less than 30% recycled content, these reforms will increase demand for secondary material plastic and therefore increase investment in recycling infrastructure. We have recently published consultations on introducing Extended Producer Responsibility for packaging and introducing a Deposit Return Scheme for drinks containers, and will be consulting on introducing consistency in household and business recycling shortly.

We have made significant progress so far to reduce plastic waste, by introducing one of the world's toughest bans on microbeads in rinse-off personal care products, and significantly reducing the sales of single-use carrier bags by the main supermarket retailers by 95% with our 5p charge. We are extending the charge to all retailers and increasing the charge to at least 10p in Spring 2021. We also introduced a restriction on the supply of plastic straws, cotton buds and stirrers from the 1st October and we are currently assessing whether there are additional items for which a ban would be a suitable and proportionate measure.

More generally, on 18 March we launched a 12 week consultation on a new 'Waste Prevention Programme for England: Towards a Resource Efficient Economy' (attached). This builds on the 2018 Resources and Waste Strategy and seeks to agree a programme which helps with our strategic goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and achieving Net Zero, protecting our natural capital, addressing our resource security, and creating jobs and growth, as well as increasing our resource productivity and minimising waste. The consultation document outlines the potential for, and benefits of, action on waste prevention. It recognises that action is required across society - by Government, businesses, local authorities, consumers and others - for progress to be made.

Waste Prevention Programme for England (pdf, 935.3KB)

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