The UK will ban businesses from selling and offering single-use plastic items, including plates and cutlery, by the end of the year reported the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The government will start implementing the legislation in October 2023.
In addition to some types of plastic, the ban will cover single-use trays and certain types of polystyrene cups and food containers, but will not cover plates, trays and bowls included in ready meals sold in supermarkets; the government intends to target them with a separate plan that incentivizes manufacturers to meet higher recycling standards.
According to one estimate by the Department for the Environment, English consumers use around 2.7 billion sets of disposable cutlery each year, and only around 10% of these are recycled.
“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,” said Environment Secretary Therese Coffey.
Earlier, similar laws were adopted by Scotland and Wales. It’s also worth noting that England already restricts the sale of other single-use items, including straws and cotton buds. In addition, the environment ministry is considering measures to target other “problematic plastic items”. In particular, the government could ban wet wipes and tobacco filters or introduce mandatory packaging labeling to show consumers how to properly dispose of these items.
The ban on single-use plates and cutlery is part of a wider effort by governments around the world to limit the production and use of single-use plastics. Last March, the UN launched the first-ever global treaty on plastic pollution. Although the deal won’t be finalized until 2024, it could be one of the most significant efforts to curb climate change since the 2015 Paris Agreement.