A ban on some single-use plastic products came into force across England yesterday in a bid to reduce plastic pollution across the country.
Under the new rules, all shops and businesses in the hospitality industry are no longer allowed to sell single-use plastic cutlery, balloon sticks or polystyrene cups and food containers in England. The supply of single-use plastic plates, trays and bowls has also been restricted.
The new regulations were announced in January, and the UK government says that extensive work has taken place throughout 2023 to provide further guidance on the ban for businesses.
UK Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “This new ban is the next big step in our mission to crack down on harmful plastic waste. It will protect the environment and help to cut litter – stopping plastic pollution dirtying our streets and threatening our wildlife. This builds on world-leading bans on straws, stirrers and cotton buds, our single-use carrier bag charge and our plastic packaging tax, helping us on our journey to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by 2042.”
According to the UK government, it has supported the industry in preparing for the new requirements, including allowing nine months from the publication of its response to the consultation on the ban to prepare and use up excess stock, and has worked with relevant trade bodies and local authorities to help businesses and Trading Standards officers to be ready for the new rules.
The ban does not apply to single-use plastic plates, trays and bowls used as packaging in shelf-ready pre-packaged food items. These will be included in the government’s plans for an ‘extended producer responsibility scheme,’ which will incentivise producers to use less packaging and meet higher recycling targets.
The government has set out plans to ramp up the repair and reuse of existing materials and increase recycling, including through its ‘Maximising Resources, Minimising Waste’ programme, which it announced in July. This programme brings together a range of measures backed by government funding to help keep products and materials in circulation for as long as possible and at their highest value.
Pete Hutton, executive chairman of sustainable packaging company Xampla, said: “There is now a clear trend in regulation, where single-use plastic is being relegated firmly to the naughty step. It is yesterday’s material and is rightly viewed as such. But more needs to be done to phase out more single-use applications, more quickly. There is simply no need for plastic to be so ubiquitous.”
Similarly, the UK government noted there is still more to do. It is bringing in a deposit return scheme for drinks containers to recycle billions of plastic bottles and stop them from entering landfills, being incinerated or littered, alongside plans to simplify recycling collections for every household and business in England.
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