UK government announces when single-use plastics will be banned in England - what items will be banned?

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The UK government has announced that a range of single-use plastics will be banned in England later this year

The UK government has announced when a ban on single-use plastics will come into force in England. The ban will include many everyday items, including single-use plastic plates, trays, bowls, cutlery, balloon sticks, and certain types of polystyrene cups and food containers.

This ban will be introduced from October 2023, allowing businesses time to prepare. The announcement was made by environment secretary minister Thérèse Coffey on January 14.

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From October, people won’t be able to buy the single-use  products from any business including  retailers, takeaways, food vendors and the hospitality industry. Over 95%  of those who responded to the  Government consultation were in favour of the bans.  .

According to UK Government estimates, England uses 2.7 billion items of single-use cutlery — most of which are plastic — and 721 million single-use plates per year.  However only 10%  of these are recycled.

Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey said: “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.

“I am proud of our efforts in this area: we have banned microbeads, restricted the use of straws, stirrers and cotton buds and our carrier bag charge has successfully cut sales by over 97 per cent in the main supermarkets.

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According to the UK Government, banning these items is expected to have a significant impact on reducing plastic waste and littering in England. The ban won’t apply to plates, trays, and bowls that are used as packaging in shelf-ready pre-packaged food items though.

These will be included in the Government’s plans for an Extended Producer Responsibility Scheme – which is expected to incentivise producers to use packaging that can be recycled and meet higher recycling targets. For example, pre-packaged salad bowls and bowls filled with food at the counter of a takeaway.

The Government is also considering further measures around other commonly littered and problematic plastic items, including wet wipes, tobacco filters and sachets. Future steps that could be explored include banning plastic in these items, and mandatory labelling on packaging to help consumers dispose of these items correctly.

Matt Hood, Co-op Food MD said: “We have been at the forefront of eradicating unnecessary plastic, so it is encouraging to see this ban being introduced and we have already removed plastic cutlery from our food to go, offering wooden forks instead. We were the first retailer to ensure all of our own brand food and drink packaging is 100% recyclable through our in store soft plastic recycling scheme, with all the soft plastics returned being processed in the UK.

“I welcome today’s announcement, and believe we must all continue to work together if we are to combat the climate emergency, and have an environment we are proud to pass on to future generations.”

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