Almost a year after the government banned plastic straws, cotton buds and drink stirrers, Defra has consulted on a proposal to ban more single-use items.
The consultation focuses on commonly littered items that have not been sufficiently addressed by existing policies or proposals, and works towards the 25-year Environment Plan and eliminating avoidable plastic waste by 2042.
The new proposal suggests banning the supply of:
- Single-use plastic plates
- Single-use plastic cutlery
- Plastic balloon sticks
- Expanded and extruded polystyrene food containers
- Expanded and extruded polystyrene beverage containers.
IEMA ran a workshop with Circular Economy Network Steering Group members to gain insights, and to discuss gaps and issues within the proposals.
The unanimous feedback was that banning unnecessary single-use plastic items is a good move for the environment, but caution is needed to ensure that the alternatives do not have unintended consequences, such as increased greenhouse gases. IEMA also made recommendations to ensure that definitions are consistent and that the government uses EU taxonomy. Decision-making needs to be scientific and evidence-based, with the inclusion of circular economy principles. New products coming to market need to be supported at the conception stage and environmentally balanced, meaning multiple environmental criteria are used to measure against causing environmental harm.
In its response, IEMA calls on the government to support and help create a scientific and evidence-based measurement of circularity, with a threshold that deems a new product circular enough to be put on the market. This would support the Green Claims Code and provide a consistent approach for reducing plastics’ harm to the environment, while using consistent definitions.
IEMA has offered its support to the government to develop a model for single-use plastic alternatives, ensuring circularity is at the top of the decision-making hierarchy.