Carmichael reintroduces Plastic Pollution Bill: “the clock is ticking”

Orkney and Shetland Liberal Democrat MP, Alistair Carmichael, has today reintroduced legislation to reduce plastic pollution in the UK, setting firm targets to cut back on plastic waste. Despite intense public concern about the scourge of plastic pollution over the past three years the Government has yet to set firm targets to reduce plastic waste.

The Plastic Pollution Bill includes:

  • A 2025 target to end non-essential single-use plastics. A ban on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds came into force in England earlier this month. But other single use plastic items such as plates, cutlery and polystyrene plates and drink containers have not been included.
  • A statutory long-term target to significantly cut plastic waste and pollution by 2042 - by phasing out all but the most essential uses of plastic. The bill also requires plastic waste and pollution to have been substantially and progressively reduced before this date.
  • The establishment of an independent advisory Committee on Plastics Pollution (CPP) - to advise the government on policy measures to achieve statutory targets and develop a list of essential plastic uses that may not be phased out


The Bill is supported by a coalition of organisations including Friends of the Earth, Surfers Against Sewage, Keep Britain Tidy, Tearfund and the National Federation of Women’s Institutes. 

Commenting on the Bill’s reintroduction, Mr Carmichael said:

“The government has kept kicking the can on the environment, both in its perpetual delays to the Environment Bill and its refusal to act specifically on plastic pollution. This is not the first time I have introduced plastic pollution legislation but the government’s past inaction has only made the need for this Bill more urgent. The clock is ticking.

“We need firm action on plastic pollution now, separate from action on climate change. Plastic pollution cannot be treated like any other form of pollution – it demands a targeted response. The government must take this Bill seriously and consider the proposals for legally-binding targets.”

He continued:

“We made good progress on the use of single-use plastics in past years but it has been put on the backburner now for too long. In the meantime others like the EU are taking bigger steps to reduce plastic waste. The longer we do not act the worse the problem of plastics and microplastics in our seas, our rivers and our food will become. Plastic pollution will be with us for decades and so we need to get on with the business of setting targets to reduce it.”

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