Single-use plastic plates, trays, bowls and cutlery will be banned in takeaways and restaurants across England from October 2023 in a bid to tackle the “devastating impact” they have on the environment.
The move is part of a government crack-down on the 2.7 billion items of single-use cutlery and 721 million single-use plates used per year, of which only 10% it estimates is recycled.
The ban will also extend to certain types of polystyrene cups and food containers. It will not apply to plates, trays, and bowls that are used as packaging in shelf-ready pre-packaged food items, as these will be included in a separate scheme which will incentivise producers to use packaging that can be recycled and meet higher recycling targets.
Plastic pollution takes hundreds of years to break down and inflicts serious damage to our oceans, rivers and land. It is also a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, from the production and manufacture of the plastic itself to the way it is disposed.
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% in the main supermarkets.”
It follows similar legislation introduced in Scotland and Wales, and is expected to have a significant impact in reducing plastic waste and littering in England. Plastic cutlery, for instance, was in the top 15 most littered items in the country by count in 2020.
The government is now considering further measures around wet wipes, tobacco filters and sachets, and plans to press ahead with its deposit return scheme for drinks containers and consistent recycling collections for every household and business in England.