Plastics: Companies

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 21st May 2021.

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Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to (a) tackle the use of single-use plastics and (b) encourage the use of more sustainable alternatives to those plastics by companies.

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan sets out our ambition to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste. We are making great strides to tackle plastic pollution. 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. 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, will increase to 10p and be extended to all retailers on 21 May 2021. This will further encourage customers to bring their own bags to carry shopping and reduce the volumes of single-use plastic being used.

The Government welcomes innovations that have a positive impact on the environment and incentivises business-led technology innovation through the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK. Innovate UK’s role is to fund business-led innovation through the allocation of competitively awarded grants, delivered through competitions. More details are available at: www.gov.uk/innovate-uk.

The Government has put together a package of over £100 million for research and innovation to tackle the issues that arise from plastic waste. £38 million has been set aside through the Plastics Research and Innovation Fund and the Resource Action Fund including £10 million specifically to pioneer innovative approaches to boosting recycling and reducing litter. The Government has also announced £60 million of funding through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, alongside a £150 million investment from industry, towards the development of smart, sustainable plastic packaging, which will aim to make the UK a world leader in sustainable packaging for consumer products.

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