England confirms single-use plastic ban

12 January, 2023

The government has confirmed that single-use plastic items such as cutlery, plates, trays, bowls, balloon sticks, and specific types of polystyrene cups and food containers will be prohibited for environmental reasons.

The ban will be implemented in October 2023 and should follow similar guidelines already adopted in Scotland and Wales.

Government data suggests that 721 million disposable plates and over 2.7 billion single-use cutlery are used every year in England. As reported by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), each person uses an average of 18 single-use plastic plates and 37 items of plastic cutlery, with only 10% of these being recycled.

In light of the above, the government is expected to ban a selection of single-use plastic items across the hospitality industry, especially takeaway food and drink.

Thérèse Coffey, environment secretary, 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 plastic bans will continue our vital work to protect the environment for future generations."

However, this measure does not apply to bowls, plates, and trays used for pre-packaged food, such as salad bowls and bowls filled with meals at the counter of a takeaway. These will be addressed with an Extended Producer Responsibility Scheme planned by the government.

UKHospitality trade body welcomed the new measure and Kate Nicholls, UKHospitality Chief Executive, commented:

"Hospitality venues have already made huge strides in moving away from single-use plastics and using greener alternatives, but there were concerns over the practicalities of some elements of the proposed ban for venues that offer both eat-in and takeaway services.

It's positive news that the Government has listened to UKHospitality's concerns about this and widened its packaging exemption to include these hybrid operators."

In contrast, the British Takeaway Campaign (BTC) reported to BBC News the concern of takeaway businesses with this decision.

As suggested by Andrew Crook, deputy chair of the TBC, fish and chips shops and other takeaways will increase their prices as small firms will be forced to transfer higher costs of packaging to customers. Therefore, Crook believes that businesses will need more support to put this measure into practice.

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