The Environment Act

We support strong legislation to reduce the production of plastics. That was evident in The Plastic Pollution Bill. The government chose to bypass that that bill and instead enacted The Environment Act 2021.

The Plastic Pollution Bill

Friends of the Earth and the Federation of Women's Institutes drew up The Plastic Pollution Bill. It would form effective legislation to:

  • End the use of non-essential single-use plastics by 2025.
  • Progressively reduce the overall use of non-essential plastic in England.
  • Prevent plastic pollution of the environment as a result of human activity as a result of human activity as far as is possible using the best practical means by 2042.
  • Progressively eliminate plastics pollution from the environment and where it is not possible to prevent or eliminate pollution, the pollution must be minimised as far as is possible using the best practicable means.

The Plastic Pollution Bill had the support of around 80 MPs and had a second reading on 29th January 2021. As part of co-ordinated efforts by Friends of the Earth, we encouraged local MPs to support the bill. That didn't happen.

The Environment Act 2021

The Environment Act 2021 was made law on the 15th November 2021. There has been much criticism of it. With regards to plastic:
Positives:
Negatives
  • It provides no stuctured timetable for plastic reduction. Hence reduction in plastic pollution may be a slow process.
  • There is no obligation to introduce the Deposit Return Scheme and Extended Producer Responsibility.
  • It is not comprehensive, omitting many forms of plastic. Microplastics are one example, estimated to constitute over 50% of plastic pollution in the UK.
  • Focus continues to be on recycling plastic rather than reduction. As our resources (The Life of a Plastic Bottle | Beware Plastic Recycling) show, plastic recycling is not the answer to plastic pollution.
  • Plastic is considered a recyclable waste stream. The term 'plastic recycling' is disputed. The creation and processing of such toxic material cannot be considered to be part of a healthy cycle.
  • The Plastic Packaging Tax is unfit for purpose.

Trade deal trap

Trade deals may either stop us from effectively dealing with plastic pollution or risk being sued in private courts by affected corporations. Neither local MP would guarantee that this wouldn't be the case. See our trade deals section for substantion of these concerns, which includes correspondence.