The United Kingdom has announced a far-reaching ban on single-use plastics in England, set to take effect in October 2023. The ban will include a variety of items such as plastic plates, trays, bowls, cutlery and certain types of polystyrene cups and food containers.
According to estimates, England uses 2.7 billion items of single-use cutlery and 721 million single-use plates per year, with only 10% being recycled. The ban will apply to all businesses, including retailers, takeaways, food vendors, and the hospitality industry. Over 95% of those who responded to the government’s consultation were in favor of the bans.
Plastic pollution is a major issue, taking hundreds of years to break down and causing serious damage to our oceans, rivers, and land. It is also a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, both in its production and disposal.
Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey stated, “We all know the absolutely devastating impacts that plastic can have on our environment and wildlife. 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 UK government has previously banned microbeads and restricted the use of straws, stirrers, and cotton buds. Additionally, a carrier bag charge has successfully cut sales by over 97% in major supermarkets.
In addition to the ban, the government is considering further measures around other commonly littered and problematic plastic items, including wet wipes, tobacco filters, and sachets. Future steps could include banning plastic in these items and mandatory labeling on packaging to aid proper disposal.
It is expected that banning these items will have a significant impact in reducing plastic waste and littering in England. Previous bans, such as banning straws, stirrers, and cotton buds have already reduced damage from these plastics.