An Act to tackle plastic pollution and deliver our commitment to abolish commonly littered single-use plastic products.
The Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products) (Wales) Act 2023 (“the Act”) is a new law which will make it a criminal offence to supply or offer to supply (including for free) certain single-use plastic products to consumers in Wales.
This law will ban the sale or supply of certain single-use plastic products in Wales, unless an exemption applies. The Senedd (the Welsh Parliament) has to agree when the bans will start.
It is our intention to introduce the bans in “phases” to allow businesses time to use existing stock and to buy or make alternatives. The Welsh Ministers are publishing draft guidance to further help you understand the Act. We will publish our final guidance once the Senedd has approved when the first phase of bans can start.
The following documents are provided for your information:
We aim to introduce Phase 1 of the ban of single-use plastic products on 30 October 2023 and for it to include:
- Single-use plastic plates – this includes paper plates with a laminated plastic surface
- Single-use plastic cutlery – for example forks, spoons, knives
- Single-use plastic drinks stirrers
- Cups made of expanded or foamed extruded polystyrene.
- Takeaway food containers made of expanded or foamed extruded polystyrene
- Single-use plastic balloon sticks
- Single-use plastic-stemmed Cotton buds
- Single-use plastic drinking straws – with exemptions so people who need them to eat and drink safely and independently can continue to have them
We aim to introduce Phase 2 of the ban of single-use plastic products by Spring 2026 and for it to include:
- Carrier bags – with exemptions including carrier bags for raw fish, meat or poultry and unpackaged food
- Polystyrene lids for cups and takeaway food containers
- Oxo-degradable plastic products
The Welsh Government wants to ban the single-use plastic products mentioned above as they are often found littered in our parks, streets, seas and on our beaches. They all have reusable or non-plastic alternatives.
Under the Act the Welsh Ministers also have powers to add or remove products from the list of banned single-use plastic products. The Welsh Ministers will keep the list of banned products under review and may make changes if further action is needed to tackle plastic pollution.
Who is affected by the changes
When a ban comes into force it will be against the law to sell or give for free any of the banned products to a consumer in Wales (unless exemptions apply).
The offence of supplying a prohibited single-use plastic product can be committed by:
- a business
- an organisation such as a company or government body
- a partnership
- a person acting as a sole trader
- a public service provider
- a charity, club, syndicate or voluntary organisation.
Information for businesses
Before the bans come into force
Businesses can consider the impact these bans could have on them. Businesses may, for example, want to consider how they could:
- Reduce stock levels of the single-use plastic products being banned
- Switch to reusable alternatives
- Look for non-plastic, single-use alternatives
When the bans come into force
When the bans come into force businesses will have to:
- Stop providing customers with banned single-use plastic products.
- Tell their staff about these changes.
Once the bans are in force if businesses still have banned products they may want to speak to suppliers, your local council or trade association about how to recycle it.
There are many alternatives to single-use plastics products already on the market. Our draft guidance has more details on alternatives.
Why we are making these changes
Many people in Wales are already taking action to reduce our reliance on single-use plastics, by changing habits and making products and services more sustainable. As a government we are committed to supporting their efforts.
The scale of the climate and ecological emergencies means the health of our environment must be prioritised.
This Act will give us even more tools to reduce our dependency on single-use plastics as quickly as possible. It is one of a range of actions Welsh Government is taking to encourage the shift away from single-use plastic products and to encourage people to take greater responsibility for their disposal. For example, we will also be introducing a Deposit Return Scheme by 2025 and setting up a new Extended Producer Responsibility scheme for packaging. Introducing this new law has contributed to our wider ambitions set out in our Circular Economy Strategy, Beyond Recycling and our draft Litter and Fly-tipping Prevention Plan.
This is an opportunity for people in Wales to think differently about how they go about their daily lives, choosing reusable products and only using single-use items where absolutely necessary. This could help save money, as well as benefiting the environment.
We understand that in some cases there will need to be exceptions to the bans. Therefore, the Act allows the bans not to be followed in certain situations. There is more information about exceptions in our draft guidance.
Help for businesses
We continue to work closely with businesses, manufacturers, public sector groups, communities and groups representing people with protected characteristics to ensure everyone understands what the bans mean for them.
Support and Advice
If you require further support or advice on these bans, please contact us at:
Local Environment Quality Division