Welsh government announces ban on single-use plastic in bid to tackle ocean waste

The Welsh government says the proposal forms part of a series of measures aimed at tackling ocean waste

Matt Mathers
Wednesday 18 March 2020 10:34 GMT
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Plans to scrap a raft of single-use plastic items have been announced by the Welsh government in a move aimed at tackling ocean waste.

Under the plans, plastic straws, cotton buds and polystyrene food and drink containers will be outlawed or have their sale restricted.

A consultation on the proposals will take place in the coming months, and Welsh lawmakers will need to pass legislation before the measures can be put in place.

Hannah Blythyn, deputy minister for housing and local government, said the proposal forms part of a range of measures aimed at cleaning up the country’s coastline.

“The single-use plastics we want to ban are hard to recycle and often found on the beaches and seas around our coast, blighting our beautiful country and harming our natural and marine environments,” she added.

“It is vital we don’t throw away our future – which is why we believe taking this direct action will have a significant impact on changing people’s behaviour and make them think about their waste when ‘on-the-go’”.

Campaigners welcomed the announcement and called on other governments to take more action to tackle the plastic pollution crisis.

Louise Edge, Plastics Campaigner at Greenpeace, told The Independent: "This is a positive step Wales has taken today which will help reduce the amount of pointless plastics washing around our planet. We urge others to follow suit."

England has already moved to clamp down on the use of single-use plastics, with a ban on straws, stirrers and cotton buds due to come into force next month.

However, the Welsh proposals go further in that they include a longer list of items set to be axed should the plans go ahead.​

Earlier this week a study revealed that lego bricks could survive in the ocean for up to 1,300 years.

Researchers at the University of Plymouth analysed bricks that had washed up on the coastlines of southwest England.

The study, published in the Environmental Pollution journal, estimated that the popular children’s toy could endure for anywhere between 100 and 1,300 years.

Dr Andrew Turner, associate professor in environmental sciences, said the findings underlined the harmful impact microplastics are having on marine life.

“The pieces we tested had smoothed and discoloured, with some of the structures having fractured and fragmented, suggesting that as well as pieces remaining intact, they might also break down into microplastics.

“It once again emphasises the importance of people disposing of used items properly to ensure they do not pose potential problems for the environment.”

Environmental campaigners Greenpeace said the study highlights the dangers of not disposing of plastic waste properly.

Chris Thorne, an Oceans Campaigner at Greenpeace UK, told The Independent: “Lego has brought joy to countless children around the world for decades, but this joy comes with a heavy price, an ocean crisis.

“This study confirms what we already knew, that much of the plastic waste we’ve left in our oceans, including Lego, will survive there for centuries, possibly even millennia.

“The impacts of this will be wide ranging, and harm marine ecosystems long after our generation is gone. We must protect our oceans from all the pressures facing them, from climate change to overfishing and plastic pollution.”

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