Government must provide “reassurance” that the single-use plastic ban delay isn’t the start of a “slippery slope”.
Responding to the news that the ban of plastic items such as straws and stirrers in England will be delayed by six months, plastic pollution campaigners say they are “concerned”.
Rebecca Burgess, CEO of City to Sea said: “We’re now looking to government to provide reassurance that this isn’t the start of slippery slope of watering down and delaying legislation to tackle the plastics crisis.
Whilst we’re all having to adapt to the rapidly changing landscape, any delays or changes to the commitment will come with a large environmental cost.
“We’re particularly concerned as this follows on from government announcing the temporary removal of charges for plastic bags used in online grocery deliveries.
“Whilst we’re all having to adapt to the rapidly changing landscape, any delays or changes to the commitment will come with a large environmental cost. We need reassurance that they understand the price they’re asking our natural environment to pay.
“This delayed ban was the government’s first-step in implementing the EU’s Single-Use Plastics Directive, and we’d like to know how they plan to transpose the rest into national law. The EU is not shifting its deadlines and so our government needs to show that it is up to the task of matching them.”
Defra confirmed that due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and subsequent disruption to businesses, the ban on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds is being delayed until October.
The ban was originally due to come into force this month after secondary legislation was laid in Parliament in March.
Defra responded to the suggestion in some media coverage that the ban may have been delayed due to lobbying from the plastics sector.
“This is incorrect,” it said. “Ministers have decided to delay the ban because of the impact on businesses from the current coronavirus outbreak to avoid additional burdens for firms at this challenging time.
Ministers have decided to delay the ban because of the impact on businesses from the current coronavirus outbreak to avoid additional burdens for firms at this challenging time.
Many of the businesses which would be affected by the ban, such as pubs, restaurants and cafes, are currently closed because of social distancing rules.
A Defra spokesperson said: “Given the huge challenges posed to businesses by coronavirus, we have confirmed we will delay the introduction of our ban on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds until October 2020.
“We remain absolutely committed to turning the tide on the widespread use of single-use plastics and the threat they pose to our natural environment.
“This ban is yet another measure to clamp down on unnecessary plastic so we can better protect our precious wildlife and leave our environment in a better state for future generations.”