Charities urge government to eradicate single use plastic by 2025 not 2042

The government must phase-out all non-essential single-use plastics by 2025 to tackle the scourge of plastic pollution, 19 leading environment charities said on Friday.

The groups, coordinated by Wildlife and Countryside Link, said in a joint report that a wholesale transition away from single-use plastic must be an “urgent priority if the government truly wants to fulfil its pledge to be a global leader in tackling plastic pollution”. The move would save more than 4,000bn pieces of unnecessary single-use plastic waste being consumed in the UK between 2026 - 2042, “helping to slash the ‘toxic plastic soup’ ending up in our oceans, rivers and countryside”.

The report argued the number-one priority for the government must be a reduction in the production and consumption of plastic items, followed by an increase in reuse and, finally, simple and cost-effective recycling, preferably within the UK. The organisations are also called for:

● immediate bans on ‘pointless’ and ‘problem’ plastics;

● steps to prevent a one-for-one substitution of "pointless" single-use plastic with products made from other materials,

● reduction targets for producers of single-use plastics, and taxes to reinforce these;

● economic incentives to drive consumer behaviour change and reduce usage; and

● a comprehensive strategy and regulatory measures to tackle sources of microplastic pollution.

WCL reported: “The United Nations Environment Assembly announced last week that it will ‘significantly reduce single-use plastics by 2030’. This is notably much more ambitious than the government’s current commitment to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by 2042, as outlined in the 25 Year Environment Plan. The EU has also promised to eliminate many single-use plastics by 2025 - much sooner than the UK. The groups are therefore calling on government to build on the useful framework in the Resources and Waste Strategy published last December and increase its ambition by eliminating all non-essential single-use plastics by 2025. This will show real global leadership in helping to turn off the plastic tap.”