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Plastics: Waste

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 653, tabled on 15 October 2019

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps she is taking to reduce plastic waste in fast food outlets.

Answered on

22 October 2019

The Resources and Waste Strategy set out our ambition to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste, including from fast food outlets. We will do this by making producers more responsible for the products they put on the market, starting with reforming the packaging waste regulations. We recently consulted on proposals to reform the packaging producer responsibility system to ensure that packaging producers fund the full net cost of managing the packaging they place on the market once it becomes waste. This will provide a strong financial incentive for packaging producers to make more sustainable decisions at the design stage and during manufacture, and to take greater responsibility for the environmental impacts of their products.

In general, we prefer to help people and companies make the right choice, rather than banning items outright. There may, however, be times when a ban is appropriate as part of a wider strategic approach. Which is why we are introducing measures to restrict the supply of plastic drink stirrers, plastic-stemmed cotton buds and plastic straws, which are commonly provided in fast food outlets, in April 2020. We will continue to review the latest evidence on problematic single-use plastic products to take a systematic approach to reducing their use.

In April last year, the Waste and Resources Action Programme and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation launched their world-leading UK Plastics Pact, with support from the Government, and some major fast food corporations such as McDonalds have signed up to it. The Pact brings these organisations together with four key targets for 2025 that aim to reduce the amount of plastic waste generated, including action to eliminate problematic or unnecessary single-use plastic packaging items. Our proposed reforms will support the Pact in achieving those targets.