Wales politics

Plastic straws, stirrers and polystyrene cups face Welsh ban

Plastic straws Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Straws are among the items officials will consider banning

Single-use plastic straws, stirrers, cotton buds and cutlery could be banned in Wales next year.

The Welsh Government is to consult on restricting the sale of a wide-range of commonly littered throw-away plastics.

Deputy minister Hannah Blythyn announced the proposals as AMs across the assembly demanded a new law to tackle plastic pollution.

Ministers in England are already planning controls on straws, stirrers and cotton buds from April.

The Welsh plans would go further, however, implementing an EU directive banning single-use plastics.

Ms Blythyn, deputy minister for housing and local government, told the Senedd that to "really tackle plastic waste and pollution, we know that we must go beyond recycling and reduce waste in the first place".

Ministers are looking to ban the sale of single-use plastic straws, stirrers, cotton buds, cutlery, and expanded polystyrene food packaging.

Balloon sticks, plates and polystyrene cups could also come under the rules.

Plans are at an early stage. The Welsh Government would need to hold a consultation, currently pegged for early next year.

Image caption Hannah Blythyn announced the plans during a debate on single-use plastics

Ms Blythyn added that she is committed to taking action to reduce the consumption of single-use coffee cups.

"A range of options are currently being actively explored - options that include possible levies, charges or taxes," she said.

The Welsh Government announced the plans during a debate on single-use plastics, called by Labour AM Huw Irranca-Davies.

With cross-party support the former MP called for the Welsh Government to establish Wales "as a world-leader in reducing plastic waste".

Advocating a new law, he proposed "appropriate taxes and levies to significantly reduce the production and use of single-use plastics in Wales".

He told AMs the Welsh Government should "consider now phasing out all single-use carrier bags totally", beyond the charging that currently takes place.

"Wales is in a great position to lead globally on significantly reducing single-use plastic waste, using the best international practice, evidence and research, using our new powers over taxes and levies to drive behavioural change," he said.

About 2.2m fewer single-use cups were used by public bodies in Wales in the last year, according to figures obtained by BBC Wales.

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