England to ban single-use plastic cutlery & plates

It is uncertain when it will be implemented.

Zoe Ern Yap | January 13, 2023, 12:04 PM

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Single-use plastic cutlery and plates are slated to be banned in England.

Single-use plastic ban

According to BBC on Jan. 8, the UK government announced a ban on single-use items including plastic cutlery and plates mainly used for takeaway food and drinks.

The ban will apply to plastic plates, trays, bowls, cutlery, balloon sticks and certain types of polystyrene cups and food containers, reported The Daily Mail.

Similar bans are already in place in Scotland and Wales.

The move follows a long consultation that took place from November 2021 to February 2022, wrote Euro News.

England had already banned single-use plastic straws, stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds in 2020.

Scotland introduced a ban on businesses using a range of single-use plastic goods in June 2021, and laws for a similar ban in Wales were approved in December and will be implemented later this year, reported BBC.

Vast amount of plastic waste

1.1 billion single-use plates and over four billion pieces of plastic cutlery are used in England annually, with each person using an average of 18 single-use plastic plates and 37 items of plastic cutlery.

According to BBC, only 10 per cent of that waste is recycled.

UK Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey said the move "will have a huge impact to stop the pollution of billions of pieces of plastic and help to protect the natural environment for future generations."

The ban was welcomed by environmentalists, but there were calls for a wider-ranging plastic reduction strategy as it currently excludes plastic items in supermarkets and shops.

BBC wrote that the government aims to address these "by other means".

The Guardian's environmental editor, John Vidal, shared in an opinion piece that the ban "barely scratches the surface of a problem that has been known about for decades and is now out of control".

He elaborated:

"The ban is too narrow in its scope. It won’t cover single-use plastic water bottles, makes no mention of plastic bags and does not even try to control the burning of plastic waste in incinerators. There is still no deposit return scheme for drinks containers and no crackdown on the export of plastic waste to poorer countries."

More details on the ban will be revealed by the government on Jan. 14, reported Euro News.

Public support

According to Greenpeace UK in February 2022, 96 per cent of the 51,000 people who shared their views through the public consultation supported the ban on the aforementioned plastic items.

Before the government closed the consultation, a petition addressed to UK's environment minister Rebecca Pow, calling for the ban on some of the "most polluting" single-use items, was handed to the Prime Minister's Office.

At the time, it had garnered more than 117,000 signatures.

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Cover image from Unsplash.