England will ban businesses from selling and offering a variety of single-use plastics, including plates and cutlery, by the end of the year, according to the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced on Saturday. The government will start enforcing the legislation in October 2023. In addition to some plastics, the ban will include single-use bowls and certain types of Styrofoam cups and food containers, but will exempt plates, trays and bowls found in supermarket ready meals; The government intends to address these through a separate plan that will encourage manufacturers to meet higher recycling standards.
According to an estimate quoted by the Environment Department, English consumers use about 2.7 billion pieces of single-use cutlery each year, and only about 10 percent of that is recycled. The department said 95 percent of people it consulted ahead of today’s announcement were in favor of a ban. “We have listened to the public and these new bans on single-use plastics will continue our important work to protect the environment for future generations,” said Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey.
Via AFP, Scotland and Wales have previously enacted similar legislation. It’s also worth noting that England is already restricting the sale of other single-use items, including straws and cotton buds. In addition, the Environment Ministry is considering measures that would target other “problematic plastic items”. In particular, the government could also ban wet wipes and tobacco filters, or require packaging labeling to show consumers how to properly dispose of these items.