Last reviewed 16 July 2021

The House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee has launched a new inquiry to investigate the UK Government’s plans to tackle plastic waste.

This Committee of cross-party MPs will explore whether new legislation, such as the plastic packaging tax and Deposit Return Scheme, are sufficient and ambitious enough to achieve shorter-term goals of making all plastic packaging on the UK market recyclable, reusable, or compostable by 2025.

Despite high-profile awareness campaigns, plastic recycling rates have risen only 32%, according to the latest figures and a significant amount is exported to third countries.

A recent Greenpeace investigation revealed some UK waste plastics exports were being burned or dumped rather than recycled. Turkey, which is highlighted in the report, was set to ban some UK plastic waste imports, but is now reported to have reversed that decision, according to MRW.

With plastic packaging waste alone still filling the equivalent of three and a half Olympic-sized swimming pools per day, it is unclear how the government intend to reach their 2042 target to put an end to “avoidable” plastic waste.

Neil Parish MP, Chair of EFRA, said the UK “has a plastic packaging problem”. Outlining the new Inquiry brief, he said: "The Government has announced many new measures to combat our reliance on disposable packaging and products. It is essential that these measures go far- and fast- enough, and that we do not just end up exporting our problem overseas."

EFRA will explore whether the government’s target of eliminating avoidable plastic waste by 2042 is ambitious enough and what steps should it take to ensure that exported plastic waste is managed sustainably.

The Committee is asking businesses and other stakeholders to share their views on the government’s plastic waste targets. Written responses can be submitted here up until the 10 of September.

Details of the new tax on plastic packaging that contains less than 30% recycled content are available here.