(Online) 19th October, 10.30-14.30
Plastic, when well designed and necessary, can play an important role in our economy and daily lives. However, its use has become so widespread, people often place little or no value on it as a resource and so it is often disposed of after one use, is not recycled or is simply littered. This is particularly true of smaller items that cannot easily be picked up. These items are then washed into our seas and onto our beaches. In 2018, research undertaken by the European Commission found that 80 to 85% of marine litter, measured by beach litter surveys, is plastic, with single-use plastic items representing 50% of the total.
The Welsh Government is currently developing a range of policy and legislative interventions to help encourage a shift in consumer behaviour away from single use items towards either reusable products or those made of more sustainable materials. This includes proposals to ban several commonly littered Single Use Plastic (SUP) items found in the marine environment. Our consultation document can be accessed here: https://gov.wales/reducing-single-use-plastic-wales. This proposed policy intervention aligns with Article 5 of the European Union’s Directive on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment (Directive (EU) 2019/904 or commonly known as the SUP Directive).
On publishing the SUP Directive, the European Union outlined its considerations in relation to the materials it believed was included in the scope of the legislation and the rationale for this approach. However, the subsequent publication of additional draft guidance has attracted criticism from some sectors that the scope of the Directive is now being widened to capture other items initially exempted from the provisions. This has resulted in ongoing debate and discussion at an EU level as to what single use plastics should and should not be covered by the SUP Directive.
As the Welsh Government is currently consulting on its proposals to ban several single use plastic items, including those made of oxo-degradable plastic, this event will provide an opportunity to discuss these issues from a Welsh perspective and help shape policy thinking.
- To assist the Welsh Government in developing its policies aimed at reducing the environmental impacts associated with the use and inappropriate disposal of single use plastic items. This will include shaping policy decisions in relation to the drafting of proposed legislation to ban several single use plastic items.
- We wish to gain a greater understanding of the potential implications of using the definitions of plastic in the Directive, in particular, whether this will hinder or help the development of novel alternatives which may be more ‘environmentally friendly’ than existing plastics.
- We would also like to understand the extent to which alternative materials that fall outside the SUP Directive’s definition of ‘plastic’ are already available and whether there are negative environmental impacts associated with these.
- Policymakers are seeking the views of the scientific and research community on the inclusion of materials such as oxo-degradable plastics in their proposals.
- In question 12 of our consultation, we have asked for views about for items that could include in a phase 2 of actions to reduce single use plastics. We would like to gain some insights as to what the group view as potential candidates for a ban or other legislative actions. This would need to include a consideration of the availability of any alternatives.