A debate in the Welsh Parliament this afternoon has called on the Welsh Labour Government to back a ban on single-use plastics.
The motion, put forward by Shadow Environment Minister, Andrew RT Davies AM, aimed to see Wales ban plastic straws, exempting those with disabilities; plastic-stemmed cotton buds, except for scientific use; and drinks stirrers.
However, the Welsh Government sought to amend the motion with a watered-down stance on plastics. Instead of seeking to ban the items, the Labour Government is instead content to ‘restrict’ them.
This afternoon’s motion also calls on the Welsh Government to introduce a drink containers deposit return scheme for Wales, a call first made by the Welsh Conservatives back in 2015.
Recent confirmed reports of Wales’ recycling being dumped in Malaysia prompted the inclusion in this debate too, of calls on the Welsh Government to strengthen supply chains in Wales in order to prevent the export of ‘environmental pollution’.
At a UK level, the Conservative Government has made great strides in tackling the scourge of plastic through its 25 Year Environment Plan, which has brought forward important measures such as the ban on microbeads in personal care and cosmetic products and a ban on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds.
Today, environmental charities such as the RSPB welcomed the opportunity to debate the issue of single-use plastics. The wildlife charity has shared its particular concerns over the amount of litter appearing on the treasured gannet nesting reserve of Grassholm Island off the coast of Pembrokeshire.
Charity representatives told Mr Davies about the plight of the resident birds on Grassholm, which has a no public landing policy, living amongst dangerous plastic which is threatening to damage nests.
Speaking outside the chamber, Mr Davies said:
“Unfortunately, proactive policy to tackle the scourge of plastic has been sadly lacking from the Welsh Labour Government.
“There has been some success when it comes to recycling, but even the most recent statistics showed a worrying downturn.
“At the moment, Wales is behind the curve, and whether this is a capacity or leadership issue, it’s clear that we need to up our game - and the gannets of Grassholm illustrate this perfectly with their difficulties amongst netting and plastic.
“I urge the Welsh Labour Government to take heed of our calls today and ensure Wales becomes a world leader in tackling plastic and by doing so, preserves our streets, countryside and wildlife for generations to come.”