The UK government has outlined bans and restrictions on a range of polluting single-use plastics coming into force 1 October.
No business – including retailers, takeaways, food vendors or parts of the hospitality industry – will be able to sell single-use plastic cutlery, balloon sticks, polystyrene cups or food containers in England after 1 October. The ban will not apply to single-use plastic plates, trays and bowls used as packaging in shelf-ready pre-packaged food items. However, these will be included in future plans for an extended producer responsibility scheme which aims to incentivise manufacturers to use less packaging and meet higher recycling targets.
According to the government, people across England use 2.7 billion items of mostly plastic single-use cutlery and 721 million single-use plates annually, while only 10% is recycled. Responses from the public demonstrated support for the ban, with 95% in favour of all prohibitions.
The new regulations were first announced in January and form part of the UK’s intention to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by 2042. The government also introduced a packaging tax in April 2022, which charges more than £200 per tonne on plastic packaging manufactured in or imported into the UK that does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic.
The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has been working with UK businesses since 2018 to eliminate unnecessary and unrecyclable plastic packaging. Since then, 620 million single-use plastic items have been removed from shops.
Head of Material Systems at WRAP Helen Bird said: “Single-use plastics dominate our world, and have even become embedded into the planet itself. This ban is an important moment in tackling the scourge of plastic pollution.”
Further guidance on the ban for businesses can be found here.