Wales must be a global leader on tackling single-use plastics

Former UK Environment Minister Huw Irranca-Davies AM will call on the Welsh Government to be a global leader in tackling single-use plastics, in a debate today in the National Assembly for Wales.

He will argue that just as Wales took the lead in the UK in introducing the successful carrier-bag levy, which led to a 70% drop in single-use carrier bags, it should now go much further much faster and seek to use legislation and tax powers to tackle a wide range of single-use plastics which are polluting our environment.

The debate has strong cross-party support from a majority of back-bench Assembly Members, and the Ogmore AM and former UK Environmental Parliamentarian of the Year hopes that the government will support his proposals, and that Wales will seek to lead globally on measures to tackle the scourge of single-use plastics.

The Ogmore AM says “We are at risk of drowning in the rising tide of plastics in our seas and our soil, in our rivers and our rain and groundwater, which is polluting our planet, trashing our countryside and coast, killing wildlife, and is now even entering the food-chain. I am calling on the Welsh Government to work with us to establish a clear action-plan to halt the plastic tide, with clear targets and milestones to achieve, and using all necessary measures including our tax and levy powers to change consumer behaviour.”

Our casual use of single-use plastic coffee cups and cutlery, cotton buds and plates, take-away containers and cigarette butts, throw-away wet wipes are trashing the places in which we live and destroying the planet we love. But we can change this. Let Wales – with its ground-breaking Well-Being and Future Generations legislation – be the clever and green country with a big heart which shows the world how to stop the rising plastic tide.”

The debate and the support for legislation to significantly reduce single-use plastics has the backing of many leading campaign organisations in Wales including Keep Wales Tidy Cymru, the Marine Conservation Society, Friends of the Earth, and the Wales Environment Link.

Jemma Bere, Policy and Research Manager at Keep Wales Tidy says “We welcome Huw Irranca-Davies’ proposal on legislation for single-use plastics and the opportunity for this urgent issue to be debated in the National Assembly. There is a great deal that we can all do to reduce our plastic use but we must have prevention at the heart of our efforts and legislation is a key part of this. Building on our huge recycling successes of recent years, there are a number of measures that could be introduced here to encourage the required cultural change and make Wales a global leader in sustainable consumption.


Research from Keep Wales Tidy has found that over the last 25 years, plastic has had a huge impact on Welsh beaches. The number of cotton buds found on Welsh beaches has increased by 183% and there has been a 17% rise in the number of food containers and cups.

A previous House of Commons report (see here: stated that in 2012, greenhouse gas emissions amounted to approximately 390 million tonnes of CO2 for all plastics. A recent EU wide survey highlighted that over 70% of visitors noticed litter on either most or every visit to the coast, with latest estimates suggesting that around 8 million tonnes of plastics enter the oceans every year.

Increasingly, studies are showing that marine litter directly affects living organisms, especially through entanglement with macro-plastics and ingestion of micro-plastics (see here for full details; )

Motion NNDM7155 

            To propose that the National Assembly for Wales: 

            1. Notes a proposal for a Bill on the use of single-use plastics. 

2. Notes the purpose of this Bill would be to:

(a) significantly reduce the use of single-use plastics based on the best international practise and research, which would establish Wales as a world-leader in reducing plastic waste.

(b) introduce appropriate taxes and levies to significantly reduce the production and use of single use plastics in Wales;

 (c)      introduce a cross-government action-plan including a comprehensive suite of measures to significantly reduce use of single use plastics;

(d)      establish targets and milestones for the reduction of specific single-use plastics