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Tackling plastic waste – are government’s plans enough?

25 November 2021

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee will hold the first evidence session in its inquiry into plastic waste at 2.30pm on Tuesday 30 November.

Despite increased awareness of plastics pollution, a large proportion of plastic waste is not recycled and the UK exports large quantities of waste plastic overseas. Plastic is versatile and long-lasting; But the very qualities which make it so useful also make it problematic – most plastics do not decompose. Plastic can now be found in the soil, the air and in the deepest parts of the oceans. Microplastics can even be found in the human body.

The overall aim of this inquiry is to scrutinise the government’s ambition in the area of plastic waste – does it go far enough and how can the nation reduce its reliance on plastic? 

The UK government has set a target of eliminating all “avoidable” plastic waste by 2042, with a shorter-term ambition to “work towards” only recyclable, reusable of compostable plastic being on the market by 2025. Measures already announced include a plastic packaging tax, a deposit return scheme and banning some single use plastics such as plastic straws.

The session will see MPs engage with a range of experts. A first panel will be a question-and-answer session on the overall plastics problem in the UK, plastic waste exports, bans on single use plastics and how the government can stimulate plastic reuse. A second panel will discuss the capacity of the waste management sector in the UK and the Government’s policies aimed at reducing plastic waste.


Tuesday 30 November 

Panel 1 at 2.30 pm

  • Paula Chin, Sustainable Materials Specialist, WWF-UK, a nature charity 
  • Adrian Whyle, Resource Efficiency Senior Manager, Plastics Europe, a manufacturers’ association
  • Susan Evans, Senior Policy Advisor, Green Alliance, an environmental think tank   

Panel 2 at 3.30pm

  • Barry Turner, Director of Plastics and Flexible Packing Group, British Plastics Federation 
  • Richard Hudson, Technical Manager, Chartered Institute of Waste Management 
  • Dr Adam Read, External Affairs Director, SUEZ, a waste and water company 

Further information

Image: CCO