The government has launched a 12-week consultation that could see single-use plastic plates, cutlery, expanded and extruded polystyrene cups and food and beverage containers being banned in England.
During the consultation, the Government will consider how a move to sustainable alternatives can be achieved without unfairly impacting on consumers. It will also look at ways to ensure manufacturers are doing everything they can to tackle single-use plastics.
A separate call for evidence will also look at tackling other commonly littered plastics such as wet wipes, tobacco filters, sachets and other single-use cups.
Policy measures that could be explored include banning plastic in these items, mandatory labelling on packaging to help consumers dispose of these items correctly, and a charge placed on single use cups or sachets to encourage a shift away from throwaway culture.
According to estimates, England uses 1.1 billion single-use plates and 4.25 billion items of single-use cutlery — most of which are plastic — per year, but only 10% are recycled upon disposal.
The 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups used per year have also been highlighted as an issue, as have plastic sachets which are often not recycled due to their small size, making it hard to segregate and clean them.
Environment secretary George Eustice said: “Plastic damages our environment and destroys wildlife. This Government has waged war on unnecessary, wasteful plastics - banning the supply of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds, while our carrier bag charge has cut consumption by 95% in the main supermarkets.
"But it’s time we left our throwaway culture behind once and for all. Through our world-leading Environment Act, we will reduce waste and make better use of our resources, helping us to build back greener and leave the environment in a better state than we found it.
“These new plans represent the next major step in eradicating the use of problematic plastics that pollute our natural world.”
Marcus Gover, CEO WRAP, added: "We welcome the consultation to expand the range of single-use plastic items to be banned in England. Eliminating problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic is essential if we are to turn the tide on plastic pollution and keep plastic out of the environment.”