Since 2020, the UK governments and the EU have banned or restricted the supply of some single-use plastic items with the aim of reducing litter and the escape of these items into the environment.
Post Brexit, these initiatives have fallen to the individual national governments in Scotland and Wales and to Defra in England.
Last month, Defra 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 from October 2023 to follow similar guidelines already adopted in Scotland and Wales.
However, there is still an element of uncertainty around the exact definition and scope of bans to some items. Here’s what we know so far…
Single-use plastic beverage stirrers and cotton buds were banned in October 2020. The supply of plastic straws was also restricted to healthcare and education settings (available on a request basis in catering settings).
Defra have announced the plan to ban the following items by 1st October 2023:
The scope of bans to plates, trays, and bowls is yet to be clarified. Defra have already stated there should be exemptions for these items in certain settings, but more information will be released soon.
Bans and restrictions were introduced in June 2022, concentrating on the following items:
There are plans to introduce bans to the same items as in Scotland in the Autumn of 2023. There is not an exact date yet, however, it’s being suggested that a date of 1st October is reasonable.
Wales also plan to introduce bans to further items including polystyrene cup lids in 2024. Again, the date is not yet confirmed.
By October 2023, bans or restrictions to the supply of the following single use plastic items should be consistent across Scotland, Wales and England:
In England, the scope of bans to plastic plates may be extended to single-use plastic bowls and trays, however more detail is required. Once there is more clarity, we will work with our packaging partners to provide more materials and fact sheets to explain this further.
While we await further clarity, operators should work with their dedicated Procurement Manager to ensure stock of restricted/banned products listed above is wound down to avoid wastage – these items cannot be returned to suppliers.
We advise focusing on EPS cups and containers, plastic cutlery, straws and stirrers and wait for clarity on plates, trays and bowls. Our Procurement Managers can help with reviewing the best alternatives for these and will support and manage the changeover with our members.
Additionally, our advanced menu management software MenuIQ can help calculate your packaging costs and provide operators with complete transparency on gross profit (GP) by including ALL associated costs. To find out more, visit www.menuiq.co.uk