We want to respond to a letter from XXX 's office. We at XXX asked him to propose an amendment to the Environment Bill 2019/21 to immediately ban single use plastic carrier bags outright and have a timetable that outlines a series of complete bans each of another forms of single use plastic.
In their letter (a copy of which can be provided) from paragraph 3 to 8 they discuss Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). However, in the following paragraph they say paper bags have a significantly larger carbon footprint than single use plastic. While this might be true for their manufacture and transport, it is blatantly untrue if you include the carbon footprint of their disposal. Each of these methods of disposal has its own carbon footprint which if multiplied by the amount of single use plastic carrier bags disposed of in that particular way. The resultant quantities would be added together and averaged this gives a carbon footprint for the disposal of every use plastic carrier bag.
• Into landfill.
• Taken by consumers for disposal to particular supermarkets. What do these supermarkets do with all these bags?
• When single use plastic carrier bags are included with general recycling, what happens then?
• If all else fails and the plastic bag lands in the sea what is the EPR for cleaning the beaches?
• What is the EPR for polluting the sea?
Extended Producer Responsibility presumably will be used to pay for your services i.e. waste removal and recycling. DEFRA is just about to consult are you aware of this?
This is what I want to write:
’ Single use plastic carrier bags cannot be included in general plastic recycling. They have to be separated either at source i.e. the home and put into landfill, returned to some supermarkets or separated by hand at recycling centres? Alternatively they’ contaminate’ general plastic recycling meaning that that batch cannot be recycled.'
REF: Request for information to support your request to ban single use plastic carrier bags outright and have a timetable that outlines a series of complete bans each of another forms of single use plastic
Thank you for your request of 19 February 2021 regarding the above. This request is being handled under the Environmental Information Regulations (EiR) 2004 and has been allocated the reference number 2021-102 (see footnote1).
Firstly, to answer your question about whether we are aware that Extended Producer Responsibility will be used to pay for our services i.e. waste removal and recycling? Yes, we are aware of upcoming changes to the funding of packaging waste services, although at this stage the exact detail of what costs will be paid for by producers is not yet determined. North London Waste Authority (NLWA) responded to the first stage of the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) consultation for packaging waste in 2019. You can find a copy of our response here on the consultation responses page of our website: https://www.nlwa.gov.uk/ourauthority/consultation-responses It is the response entitled ‘Consultation on reforming the UK packaging producer responsibility system’, 13 May 2019.
Secondly, ‘yes’ we also understand that DEFRA will shortly be consulting on this issue.
Thirdly, in relation to your proposed text of response: Whether plastic carrier bags should or should not be included in the general recycling depends considerably on the materials recycling facility to which the material is sent and whether they can sort and recycle these types of flexible plastics. In north London we will accept plastic carrier bags in the general recycling as they are included in the specification of what is acceptable by the materials recycling facility (MRF) that we use. There is more detail on the plastics recycling page of our website https://www.nlwa.gov.uk/reducereuserecycle/recycle/plastics-recycling and more detailed information about what plastics can and cannot be recycled on the ‘mixed plastic packaging’ page: https://www.nlwa.gov.uk/reducereuserecycle/recycle/whatcanwerecycle/mixed-plastic-packaging
However, UK and global markets for all recyclable materials change over time, so although we accept plastic carrier bags, at the present moment in time we have not been able to find a suitable re-processor to buy them, so they will not be recycled. They are instead used to produce a refuse derived fuel (RDF) which is used as fuel for energy recovery (as opposed to going to landfill). You can find more detail here: https://www.nlwa.gov.uk/reducereuserecycle/recycle/whatcanwerecycle/carrier-bags
Accordingly, this means that the text you have written below is not correct for north London:
‘Single use plastic carrier bags cannot be included in general plastic recycling. They have to be separated either at source i.e. the home and put into landfill, returned to some supermarkets or separated by hand at recycling centres? Alternatively they’ contaminate’ general plastic recycling meaning that that batch cannot be recycled ’
However, you are very welcome to quote any of the information on the plastics recycling pages of our website when drafting your response and may also be interested in our press release about single-use face masks which also focusses on the issue of single use plastics in general https://www.nlwa.gov.uk/news/102-million-disposable-facemasks-thrown-away-uk-each-week-would-cover-wembley-pitch-232-times There are also several responses to residents’ questions about compostable plastics on our ‘scheme of publication’ webpage which you can search by clicking on ‘recycling’ in the drop-down menu under ‘nature or request’ and looking through the enquiries about recycling. https://www.nlwa.gov.uk/ourauthority/scheme-of-publications
Finally, we also run a project called ‘Low Plastic Zones’ in north London which works with local businesses in an area to reduce single use plastic – it looks very similar to the ‘where to shop’ page of your website. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, engaging with businesses has been temporarily put on hold but we would be very keen to get in touch with you once this activity resumes, as we can see lots of interesting synergies between your work and Low Plastic Zones. The project manager is X X (email: X X@nlwa.gov.uk) and if you’re happy for her to do so, she will make contact with you in the near future to discuss this further. In the meantime, you can find more detail about this project here: https://www.nlwa.gov.uk/campaigns-and-projects/low-plastic-zones
I trust this response answers your questions, but if I can be of any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact me.
 Given the nature of our activities and the fact that environmental information is interpreted quite broadly we now generally answer information requests under the Environmental Information Regulations rather than the Freedom of Information Act. Further detail is available at: http://www.ico.gov.uk/for_organisations/environmental_information.aspx