England follows Wales and bans single-use plastic including food containers, plates and cutlery
In a move aimed at reducing plastic waste and litter, the UK government has announced a ban on single-use plastic plates, cutlery and trays in England, starting from October 2023.
The ban will mean businesses such as retailers and takeaway vendors to find recyclable alternatives for these products.
The move in England follows the passing of legislation in Wales to ban single-use plastics from this autumn.
Like Wales, the UK government is set to ban a range of polluting single-use plastics including single-use plastic plates, trays, bowls, cutlery, balloon sticks, and certain types of polystyrene cups and food containers.
The ban will be introduced from October 2023, giving businesses time to prepare.
It is estimated that in England alone, 2.7 billion items of single-use cutlery, with 721 million single-use plates used per year however, only 10% of these are recycled.
The ban will prohibit the sale of these products by any business, including retailers, takeaways, food vendors, and the hospitality industry. Over 95% of those who responded to the government’s consultation were in favour of the ban, the statement said.
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Thérèse Coffey said the ban will continue the government’s efforts to protect the environment for future generations. “We all know the absolutely devastating impacts that plastic can have on our environment and wildlife.”
She said. “We have listened to the public and these new single-use plastics bans will continue our vital work to protect the environment for future generations.”
The ban is expected to have a significant impact on reducing plastic waste and littering in England.
Plastic cutlery was in the top 15 most littered items in the country in 2020.
The UK government says it is also considering further measures around other commonly littered and problematic plastic items, including wet wipes, tobacco filters, and sachets.
Wales became the first part of the UK to legislate against a thorough list of single-use plastics when Senedd approved legislation to ban selling unnecessary, disposable products to consumers in December last year.
Whilst Wales is not the first UK-devolved nation to introduce a ban, the Welsh government ban contains the most comprehensive list of single-use plastic items.
The new law is a key step in reducing the flow of damaging plastic waste into the Welsh environment and is being introduced following consultation with the public and other stakeholders.
Taking effect in autumn 2023, it will give local authorities the power to enforce the offence of supplying or offering to supply the commonly littered items – even when they are free.
The Bill allows the Welsh Government, working with the Senedd, to revise the current list of banned or restricted products meaning Ministers will be able to ban other types of environmentally harmful single-use plastic products in the future, by passing regulations.
Items included are:
- drinking straws – this product has an exemption for health needs
- plastic stemmed cotton buds
- balloon sticks
- expanded and foamed extruded polystyrene fast-food containers
- expanded and foamed extruded polystyrene cups
- polystyrene lids for all cups and fast-food containers
- thin plastic single-use carrier bags
- all products made of oxo-degradable plastic
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