I signed up to the Big Plastic Count and have been horrified by the amount of single-use plastic that I get through - the majority from supermarket products (vegetables and meat products being wrapped) which are avoidable. We are clearly producing far too much plastic waste and we must be more ambitious in tackling this problem.
I am pleased that the Resources and Waste Strategy for England sets out plans to reduce, reuse, and recycle more plastic than we do now. Ministers have committed to work towards all plastic packaging placed on the market being recyclable or reusable by 2025. This is a step in the right direction.
A promising start has been made on single-use plastics, we have already introduced the carrier bag charge, which has cut single-use plastic bags in large supermarkets by 95%, restricted single-use plastic straws, stirrers, and cotton buds, and banned microbeads in rinse-off personal care products. We recently consulted on going further still, and banning single-use plastic plates and cutlery as well as expanded and extruded polystyrene food and drink containers.
I know that colleagues are committed to addressing other sources of plastic pollution and ran a call for evidence on other problematic plastic items, including wet wipes, tobacco filters, sachets, and other single-use cups.
The Environment Act 2021 includes a raft of new powers to address plastic pollution and litter, including a Deposit Return Scheme for drinks containers, which will recycle billions more plastic bottles and stop them being landfilled or littered. The Extended Producer Responsibility scheme for packaging will make manufacturers responsible for the full net cost of recycling their packaging waste and encourage more recyclable packaging. In addition, the Act establishes greater consistency in the recycling system and introduces new powers to make it easier to place charges on single-use plastic items that threaten our ecosystems.
The export of plastic waste is subject to strict controls set out in UK legislation. Businesses involved in the export of waste are required to take all necessary steps to ensure that the waste they ship is managed in an environmentally sound manner throughout its shipment and during its recycling. Individuals and businesses found to be exporting waste in contravention of the requirements of the legislation can face a two-year jail term and an unlimited fine.
I want to deal with more of our waste at home and therefore, I am pleased that we have committed to banning the export of plastic waste to countries which are not members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. The Environment Act contains a power that will enable the Government to deliver on this commitment.