Last November, Philip Hammond promised to look at how the tax system and charges on single-use plastics can reduce waste.

But with little progress made in the three months since that announcement, the Government’s environmental watchdog has asked for clarification on the start date and length of the consultation.

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) also wishes to hear whether it will be the Treasury or Defra that runs the process.

A letter sent from the EAC to Hammond today (22 February) highlights the “public concern around the impact of plastic pollution on our environment”.

It references the Committee’s recent inquiry which found that 700,000 plastic bottles are littered every day. “These are just one example of single-use plastics that can end up in our seas and oceans, killing wildlife and breaking down into harmful microplastics,” the letter reads.

EAC Chair Mary Creagh MP criticised the speed at which ministers are taking action on plastics. “The Government has talked the talk on plastics pollution, but it has been too slow to walk the walk,” she said.

The Government last month unveiled its 25-Year Environment Plan, which pledges to eliminate all “avoidable” plastic waste by the end of 2042. The strategy has sparked a wave of corporate pledges vowing to reduce the use of single-use plastics. 

The BBC announced it will launch a new “three-step plan” to remove single-use plastics from its operations by 2020, while a host of retailers, including IcelandWaitrose and Asda have also agreed to slash the amount of single-use plastics they use.

George Ogleby

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