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Plastics: Waste

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN HL12126, tabled on 13 January 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure that the UK does not export plastic waste to poorer countries; and what plans they have to address ocean pollution ahead of COP26.

Answered on

27 January 2021

Recognising the difficulties experienced by some countries in managing imports of plastic waste, the Queen’s Speech on 19 December 2019 included a commitment to ban the export of plastic waste to countries that are not members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. The Environment Bill will enable us to deliver on this commitment and we will consult on the date by when the ban should be in place. The Bill also allows us to introduce electronic tracking of waste to help tackle waste crime here in the UK and prevent illegal waste from being shipped abroad.

2021 is a vital year for the ocean, climate and nature. Through the UK’s COP26 and G7 Presidencies, the Government will showcase global leadership in tackling key pressures facing the ocean, using its influence to advocate for greater action and champion global collaboration. The Government intends to publish an update to the UK Marine Strategy Part 3, outlining the programmes of measures that will continue to move the UK towards Good Environmental Status in its seas, including contaminants and marine litter.

In 2018 the Government launched the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance with our co-chair Vanuatu calling on Commonwealth countries to pledge action on plastic pollution. The Government has committed up to £70m to tackle plastic pollution, including helping developing countries prevent plastic waste entering the ocean, as well as to develop sustainable manufacturing, and has committed to start negotiations on a new global agreement on marine plastic litter and microplastics.

The Government has also committed to establish a new £500m Blue Planet Fund, to help developing countries protect the ocean from key human-generated threats, including pollution, and is a proactive Contracting Party to the London Convention (1972) and London Protocol (1996) to prevent pollution caused by dumping at sea.