A Bill to tackle plastic pollution and deliver our commitment to abolish commonly littered single-use plastic products.
The Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products) (Wales) Bill is a new law which will make it a criminal offence to supply or offer to supply (including for free) specific single-use plastic products to consumers in Wales.
This law will stop the sale or supply of these products in Wales, unless there is an exemption. The bans will be introduced in “phases”. This is to allow businesses time to use up existing stock and to buy or make alternatives.
The Impact Assessments and Explanatory Memorandum are provided for your information.
Phase 1 – from Autumn 2023
- Plates – this includes paper plates with a laminated plastic surface
- Cutlery – for example forks, spoons, knives
- Drinks stirrers – those designed for stirring drinks or liquid food
- Cups made of expanded or foamed extruded polystyrene
- Takeaway food containers made of expanded or foamed extruded polystyrene
- Sticks for balloons
- Plastic-stemmed cotton buds
- Drinking straws – with exemptions so people who need them to eat and drink safely and independently can continue to have them
Phase 2 – will begin to come into force from 2024 onwards
- Plastic single-use carrier bags
- Polystyrene lids for cups and takeaway food containers
- Oxo-degradable plastic products
These products are being banned as they all are often found littered in our parks, streets, seas and on our beaches. They all have reusable or non-plastic alternatives.
Welsh Ministers also have powers to take add other products if further action is needed to tackle plastic pollution.
Who is affected by the changes
It will be against the law to sell or give for free any of the products listed above to a consumer in Wales.
The offence 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
What will businesses need to do
Before the bans come into place
Businesses should take steps now to start planning for the new law by following the advice below:
- Reduce stock levels of the single-use plastic products being banned
- Consider switching to reusable alternatives
- Where this isn’t possible, look for non-plastic, single-use alternatives
When the bans come into force
- Stop providing customers with banned products from Autumn 2023, or earlier if possible.
- Tell your staff and customers about these changes.
- Try to avoid having excess stock. If you have products left over when the bans come into effect, speak to suppliers, your local council and Welsh Government about how to recycle excess stock.
There are many alternatives to single-use plastics already on the market. We are producing comprehensive guidance which will have more details on alternatives, we are aiming to publish this in May.
Why are we 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 Bill will give us even more tools to reduce our dependency on unnecessary 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 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 & 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 some of the bans will have certain limitations. We have included exemptions (this means something that does not have to follow the rules) in the law to cater for these needs.
- it is provided in connection with the provision of medical care or treatment.
- it is sold or provided free of charge to a person who says the straw is for health or accessibility reasons, for that person or for someone else.
- when requesting a single-use plastic straw or a packet of straws for yourself or on behalf of someone else for health and accessibility reasons.
- You will not need to provide any evidence of need when requesting a single-use plastic straw
Plastic Single-Use Carrier bags
A plastic carrier bag is single-use bag if it is made of plastic and is less than 49microns thick. A consumer may have the following types of plastic single-use carrier bag:
- a small carrier bag with no gusset or handles (125 x 125 mm or smaller).
- a carrier bag for specific products namely raw fish, meat or poultry; free personal hygiene products; live aquatic animals in water; unpackaged food, paper products, seeds, bulbs, corms, rhizomes; blades, bladed articles, and goods contaminated with soil.
- a carrier bag provided for carrying alcohol or tobacco in a security-restricted area such as an airport.
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