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Ban single-use plastics in Wales to tackle littering and plastic pollution

05/11/2020

We need swift action to ban single-use plastics and improve education and recycling facilities to tackle the litter and plastic waste problem in Wales, says the Welsh Youth Parliament.

The report - What to do with our Waste? - is available here

It’s calling on the Welsh Government to introduce either a new policy, or legislation, to curb plastic use, either before the end of this Senedd term or early in the next one.

Further recommendations call for better provision of recycling bins around Wales and teaching children and young people about the dangers of pollution and the benefits of recycling and reducing our consumption of single-use plastic.

"We may be in a situation where there is more plastic in the sea than fish by 2050. That is not a situation that we can allow to happen. We have the ability and potential as a country to make a difference to our generation and to future generations.” - Efan Fairclough, Welsh Youth Parliament Member.

The link between plastic pollution and the wider topic of climate change is highlighted in a recent report by the Centre for International Environmental Law:

“At current levels, greenhouse gas emissions from the plastic lifecycle threaten the ability of the global community to keep global temperature rise below 1.5C.” (May 2019). 

“At the start of secondary school, I got a grasp on just how big the issue of plastic waste was; in school, at home, everywhere and I could see the devastating effects of plastic on the environment.” - Ubayedhur Rahman, Welsh Youth Parliament Member.

“I truly believe education is extremely important and is the main way we can inspire the younger generations to be more eco-friendly.” - Anwen Rodaway, Welsh Youth Parliament Member.

In a survey of 560 children and young people around Wales, 93 per cent said their parents or carers were the most influential in their awareness of the need to recycle, while only 42 per cent listed high profile environmental champions such as Sir David Attenborough or Greta Thunberg.

While 90 per cent of those surveyed recycled plastic bottles and 80 per cent recycled drinks cans, less than half of those surveyed recycled other plastic items such as packaging trays, plastic pots, paper, cardboard, food waste, glass and clothing.

“When you think things like paper, cardboard, tins, glass are all easy to recycle...the fact that these are, generally not being recycled, this is actually a pretty significant problem.” - Aled Joseph, Welsh Youth Parliament Member.

During the consultation, Members learned more about the need to consider sustainability in our use of many items. They became far more aware of the effect clothing has on the issue of plastic pollution as microplastics from synthetic fibres, often found in fast fashion items, are washed into our seas. This is one of the areas which they feel awareness needs be raised further.

“Recycling plastic bottles, we talk about more than other types of plastic and that has an influence. When it comes to recycling clothing, which wasn’t that high compared to plastic bottles, we don’t talk about the need to recycle clothing that much, so it’s also about what we talk about” - Ffion-Haf Davies, Welsh Youth Parliament Member.

There are ten recommendations in the report by the Welsh Youth Parliament. In it members say:

  • We want to see Welsh Government take swift, significant action to end the production of single-use plastics (with some essential exceptions), and consider approaches such as banning the production of single-use plastics, Extended Producer Responsibility, and/or Deposit Return Schemes;

  • A greater emphasis on educating all young people across Wales on the negative effects of littering and plastic waste, and how young people can help to tackle these issues; and,

  • Equip all education institutions with the facilities they need to ensure that a wider range of materials can be recycled and that the amount of single-use plastic being used is reduced significantly. We hope this in turn would also mean that young people form good habits at an early age. 

The findings andrecommendations will be sent to the Welsh Government to consider and respond to.

The report is the final of three key priorities decided on by the Welsh Youth Parliament when it first met in February last year. Those priorities were:


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