Friends of the Earth, WI and MPs launch new bill to cut plastic pollution

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A new draft law to significantly cut plastic waste and pollution by 2042 will be presented to Parliament later today (Monday, February 25).

The Phase-out of Plastic Pollution Bill, which has been drawn up by Friends of the Earth and the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI), will be presented to Parliament by Alistair Carmichael MP, with support from a cross party group of MPs.

Today’s launch coincides with a new YouGov poll for Friends of the Earth which shows that nearly nine in ten people (89%) support legislation to cut plastic waste and pollution within 25 years.

Despite recent initiatives to reduce plastic waste and pollution by businesses and the government, plastic remains a huge threat to our environment and wildlife.

If passed, the new law would ensure tough and timetabled action to tackle the crisis and put the UK at the forefront of efforts to end plastic pollution.

The Phase-out of Plastic Pollution Bill, includes:

A statutory long-term target to significantly cut plastic waste and pollution by 2042 - by phasing out all but the most essential uses of plastic. The bill also requires plastic waste and pollution to have been substantially and progressively reduced before this date.

A 2025 target to end non-essential single-use plastics. Current UK and European Commission proposals include welcome plans for bans on a limited number of products, but these omit the vast majority of polluting plastics (such as plastic sachets and disposable coffee cup lids).

The establishment of an independent advisory Committee on Plastics Pollution (CPP) - to advise the government on policy measures to achieve statutory targets and develop a list of essential plastic uses that may not be phased out.

The launch of the new bill coincides with a new YouGov poll for Friends of the Earth, published today that shows:

89% support a law to significantly reduce plastic waste and pollution within 25 years - with 61% expressing strong support

88% support a law to ensure manufacturers and retailers phase out all non-essential single-use plastic by 2025 - with 60% expressing strong support

89% think manufacturers should do more to cut down on plastic, with 86% thinking retailers, such as supermarkets should be doing more.

Last year Theresa May pledged to eradicate all avoidable plastic waste in the UK by 2042, as part of the government’s 25-year plan - but a process or plan for achieving this is not clear.

The Bill is supported by a cross-party group of MPs including the sponsor Alistair Carmichael (Lib Dem - Orkney and Shetland), Anna McMorrin (Lab - Cardiff North), Alex Sobel (Lab - Leeds North West), Mary Creagh (Lab - Wakefield), Kerry McCarthy (Lab - Bristol East), Scott Mann (Con - North Cornwall), Caroline Lucas (Green - Brighton), Layla Moran (Lib Dem - Oxford West), Tim Farron (Lib Dem - Westmorland and Lonsdale), Zac Goldsmith (Con - Richmond Park), Ben Lake (Plaid Cymru - Ceredigion), Matthew Offord (Con - Hendon)

Friends of the Earth chief executive, Craig Bennett said: “The only practical way to really end the scourge of plastic pollution in the next 25 years is through legislation.

“Recent initiatives from government and companies are certainly welcome, but these are just tiny drops in a vast ocean of plastic waste that’s wrecking our environment and harming our wildlife.

“The UK government showed real global leadership by introducing the world’s first national legislation to cut carbon emissions - it must now do the same with plastic.

“It’s time to get drastic on plastic and take bold action with a timetabled phase-out of all but the most essential plastics.”

Vice Chair of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes Ann Jones said: “Our End Plastic Soup campaign builds on over 90 years of WI campaigning to protect the environment and ocean from pollution.

“As with all WI campaigns, it stemmed directly from the concerns put forward by a WI member, who felt passionately about the threat microplastics pose to marine life.

“WI members are clear that we need urgent action now from government to tackle the threat that all plastic waste represents to our oceans and wildlife. We are supporting the Phase-out of Plastic Pollution Bill to put in place a plan to end this plastic pollution crisis.”

Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael, who is presenting the bill said: “Our government has got to start taking the threat of plastic in our oceans more seriously. The Bill I have been working on with Friends of the Earth and the WI would put meaningful targets into law.

“We have got to get ambitious if we are to reverse the current trend in plastic pollution and to do that we must challenge our throwaway culture.

“These are big challenges, which require international solutions. This bill will allow the UK to lead the way in challenging consumer behaviour and eliminating plastic pollution from our seas.”

More than 210,000 people have signed a Friends of the Earth petition calling for government action on plastic pollution: https://friendsoftheearth.uk/plastics