Work to eradicate single use plastic took a step forward with new restrictions on the use of a range of single-use plastic items.
From 1st October no business (retailer, takeaway, food vendor or part of the hospitality industry) will be able to sell single-use plastic cutlery, balloon sticks nor polystyrene cups and food containers in England. The supply of single-use plastic plates, trays and bowls has also been restricted. The new regulations were announced in January and extensive work has taken place throughout 2023 to provide further guidance on the ban for businesses.
John said: “Each step to protect the environment from plastic pollution and reduce potential littering is welcome. We know how long it takes for plastic to break down and the danger that can be inflicted across the land and in our rivers and oceans. This is a positive move by the Department for the Environment in the right direction.”
Research shows people across England use 2.7 billion items of mostly plastic single-use cutlery and 721 million single-use plates every year, but only 10% of these are recycled. If 2.7 billion pieces of cutlery were lined up, they would go round the world more than eight-and-a-half times.
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “This new ban is the next big step in our mission to crack down on harmful plastic waste. It will protect the environment and help to cut litter – stopping plastic pollution dirtying our streets and threatening our wildlife. This builds on world-leading bans on straws, stirrers and cotton buds, our single-use carrier bag charge and our plastic packaging tax, helping us on our journey to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by 2042.”
The Government has engaged closely with industry to support them in getting ready for the new requirements, including by giving them nine months from the publication of its response to the consultation on the ban to prepare and use up excess stock. We have been working closely with relevant trade bodies and local authorities to help businesses and Trading Standards officers be ready for the new rules.
Responses from the public to the consultation on the ban demonstrated overwhelming support, with 95% in favour of all prohibitions. People and businesses want to do the right thing for the environment and banning these items will be a significant help in reducing plastic waste and littering – plastic cutlery, for instance, was in the top 15 most littered items in the country in 2020.
The ban will not apply to single-use plastic plates, trays and bowls used as packaging in shelf-ready pre-packaged food items as these will be included in our plans for an extended producer responsibility scheme, which will incentivise producers to use less packaging and meet higher recycling targets.