More single-use plastics could be banned

Businesses in England should brace themselves for further bans on single-use plastic items after the government stated its intention to remove the “worst offending” products from the market.

On Thursday, Defra published its long-awaited waste prevention programme for England which builds on 2018’s resources and waste strategy. In it, the government says it intends to build on new restrictions on the supply of plastic straws, cotton buds and drink stirrers “by consulting on potential bans on other single-use plastic items”.

It added that impact assessments for future bans on single-use plastics “will continue to assess the potential for substitution to single-use items made of other materials, to ensure that any ban really is a sustainable approach”.

The Scottish government this week published draft legislation for bans on a number of single-use plastic items and oxo-degradable products, aligning it with the EU's single-use plastics directive. The Welsh government has consulted on the bans and commenced legal proceedings to challenge the internal markets act - which it says may “hamper our ability to take some of the actions we have already committed to take [on single-use plastics]”.

Westminster's plans have been long-awaited by businesses and other waste and resources experts who have highlighted “slow progress” in delivering many of the key objectives of the waste strategy. Further consultations on extended producer responsibility (EPR), a deposit return scheme (DRS) for England and household collections are also expected to be published any day now.

The new waste prevention programme also reaffirms the government’s commitment to introduce mandatory annual reporting of food waste by certain food businesses of an appropriate size, subject to consultation.

Hospitality businesses could also be impacted by new proposals to hold manufacturers accountable for textile waste. The government plans to consult by the end of 2022 on options for textiles, such as an EPR scheme which would ensure the industry contributes to the costs of recycling.

It said such a scheme “could boost reuse, better collections and recycling, drive the use of sustainable fibres, and support sustainable business models such as rental schemes”.

The foodservice and hospitality sector uses a large volume of textiles such as linen for chef whites, staff uniforms and tablecloths, however there is little data on how much gets reused or recycled.

The government said by using powers sought in the environment bill it will be able to set minimum standards for clothing on durability and recycled content, and explore ways to improve labelling and consumer information on clothing. However, the bill has been delayed until the autumn, to the frustration of environmental NGOs.

Meanwhile, £30m has been allocated by UK Research and Innovation to establish five new research centres that will develop UK-based circular supply chains, one of which will focus on circular textiles technology.

The government also aims to galvanise industry action through a new voluntary agreement coordinated by WRAP - Textiles 2030 - which will aim to reduce the environmental footprint of the textiles sector through science-based targets.

“We are firmly committed to ending the ‘throwaway’ culture as we build back greener,” said environment minister Rebecca Pow. “Major retailers and fashion brands have made strides in reducing their environmental footprint but there is more we must do. That is why, through our world-leading environment bill and landmark reforms, we will take steps to tackle fast fashion by incentivising recycling and encouraging innovation in new design.”

1 Response

  1. Wish there were alternatives to J cloths. We don’t use them if only because I do hate wastage, but you see their widespread use everywhere and that fibre is non recyclable and not degradable. I think when the industry is fully active hundreds fo thousands of these get used daily and go wit the main rubbish.
    BUT hey what about single use face masks……already estimated that 250K tons of non recyclable waste has been created by PPE in the last year. Not sure if the figures are correct though

    Have fun

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