Public sector guidance on the procurement of plastics

Plastic cuttlery

Wales, along with the rest of the world, is facing a number of significant challenges concerning the manufacture, use and disposal of plastics.

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In 2014, the UK generated around 4.9 million tonnes of plastic waste, of which 400,000 tonnes was generated in Wales and circa 67% was waste packaging. Evidence is growing that much of the plastic waste generated (in the UK and globally) is not recovered or recycled and is accumulating in significant volumes on land, in our oceans and waterways.

400,000 tonnes of plastic waste was generated in Wales in 2014 Public concern is growing and relevant stakeholders, including the public sector, are tasked with addressing the issue and leading by example by taking action. However, when addressing these concerns, it is important to recognise the vital role that plastics and packaging plays in protecting and preserving products (including food, drinks and medicines), preventing waste and conveying consumer information.

This document is aimed at procurement teams, senior management, procurement services, facilities and operational management, elected members and waste teams within national and local government, health, education, emergency services and other public sector bodies. It provides basic information that public bodies in Wales can draw upon and use to tackle the environmental impact of plastic.

The information provided can support public bodies to make evidence-based decisions and ensure that procurement choices do not result in unintended consequences (such as increased food waste or carbon emissions, or contamination of recycling streams with inappropriate materials). Whilst the focus of this guidance is on single-use and packaging plastics, the guide includes simple processes and tools which organisations can use to inform internal decision-making and purchasing choices for all products containing plastic and to deliver solutions appropriate to both the context and location.

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