Wales is expected to ban the sale of single-use plastic bags, which are included in a lengthy list of items to be prohibited if a bill put before the Welsh parliament on Tuesday becomes law.
The move would mean that anyone caught supplying bags could face prosecution in a magistrates’ court and a fine, and it would be the first law of its kind in the UK. Other single-use items that would be banned if the legislation passes include cutlery, plastic-stemmed cotton buds, some fast food containers and drinking straws.
Wales has an impressive track record when it comes to reducing the use of plastic bags, being one of the first countries in the world to introduce a charge for single-use carrier bags in 2011 (which was later introduced in England too).
Julie James, the minister for climate change, said the move would boost the environment and challenge modern ‘throwaway culture’.
She said: ‘This is a big moment in our journey towards a plastic-free Wales. Single-use plastic products are often seen littered in our streets, parks and seas. Not only are they unsightly, but they have a devastating impact on our wildlife and environment.’
The ban on the sale of some single-use plastics, including straws, has already been implemented in both England and Scotland, but it doesn’t apply to plastic bags.
The Environmental Protection (Plastic Straws, Cotton Buds and Stirrers) (England) Regulations 2020 came into force in England in July 2021. This restricts the supply (not manufacture) of single-use plastic straws, cotton buds and drink stirrers. While the mandatory charge for single-use plastic bags in supermarkets has apparently cut their use by 95 percent since 2015, the government in England has not set out any plans to ban them.