Ministers declare new war on single-use plastics

10th July 2020 | Recycling

A new war on single-use plastics has been declared by ministers amid mounting concern the coronavirus pandemic is undoing Britain’s progress on recycling and pollution. The Telegraph can reveal that the Government is investigating reusable and biodegradable PPE in a bit to cut down on plastic waste.

The coronavirus pandemic has fuelled an increase in single-use plastics, and campaigners have warned billions of disposable masks and gloves could end up in the ocean. Fears over contamination have also led restaurants to use disposable cutlery, sachets and containers. Across the world, legislation to ban single-use plastics was delays by the pandemic. A new landmark law to outlaw the use of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds was due to be voted on in April, but was haled by coronavirus. Now, ministers are racing against the clock to get the ban in place as soon as October.

Single-use plastic

This issue is close to the heard of Number 10, as Carrie Symonds, the Prime Minister’s fiancee, works as an ocean plastics campaigner for marine NGP Oceana. She has frequently spoken out against single-use plastics. Defra ministers Lord Goldsmith and Rebecca Pow say that “we need to make sure our hard-won progress is not undone” by the virus. They added the public health emergency “has meant an unavoidable reliance on single-use plastics such as the personal protective equipment that is so essential for public health.”

Defra is working with Public Health England to come up with reusable, recyclable or biodegradable PPR to reduce the impact on the oceans. The ministers explained, “We are actively thinking across the Government and NHS whether we can safely reuse PPE and are aware of other countries who have begun looking at the potential to decontaminate and reuse it. And as we emerge from the pandemic, we must pick up from where we left off – driving forward with our ambitious plans to lead the global fight on unnecessary single-use plastics and each playing our part to make real change.

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