22 October, 2018

Resource Futures research underpins Defra public consultation on a ban on plastics straws, cotton bud sticks and drinks stirrers.

Today DEFRA announced a public consultation to gather views on the proposals to ban plastic straws, plastic stemmed cotton bud sticks and plastic drinks stirrers. Resource Futures was contracted by Defra to produce the preliminary assessment of the economic, environmental and social impacts of such a ban on plastics use. Our report forms one of the public consultation documents, alongside Defra’s impact assessments for each product based on our work.

The public consultation is timely, following an announcement of plans for a ban by the Prime Minister in April. Further, Defra public consultations concerning reductions in the use of other single use plastics are expected in the coming months, and Resource Futures is currently finalising a similar impact assessment for Defra relating to a potential ban on plastic cutlery, plastic plates and plastic balloon sticks. The work follows the proposed EU Single-Use Plastics Directive which proposes EU-wide measures to tackle the most frequently found plastics on beaches and seas.

Report author, George Cole, Senior Consultant at Resource Futures said “In this report we have sought to understand the impact of a ban on these products and how to avoid any unintended consequences that might negatively affect sectors of society. There is still some uncertainty and knowledge gaps which were explored in the modelling exercise and sensitivity analysis. The public consultation will be an opportunity for stakeholders and experts to provide evidence to inform any future action.”

Project lead Bernie Thomas, Principal Consultant at Resource Futures commented “The subject of plastic pollution has captured the attention of the public, who are becoming more well-informed on the harm plastic can cause the natural environment. It’s an emotive subject that we all connect with. The Government is looking to act on this issue to protect our environment for future generations and this research will help inform those decisions.

Our research has indicated that some types of single use plastics are unnecessary and should probably be removed from the market. But this is not necessarily the case for all types of plastics. Resource Futures is taking a comprehensive and balanced approach in its analysis and is considering the impacts of products across their lifecycle (use-phases) – a subject that we recently co-authored detailed guidance on. This use-based approach provides a framework for manufacturers, waste managers and policy makers to make rational and informed decisions around plastics.”

The public consultation is available through the Gov.uk website and is open until 3 December 2018.

Eliminating avoidable plastic waste by 2042: a use-based approach to decision and policy making June 2018. Written by: Resource Futures and Nextek