New plastics ban: Single-use plastic plates, cutlery and polystyrene cups face restrictions

Single-use plastic plates, cutlery and polystyrene cups are among a number of items that could soon be banned in England, the government has announced.

The plans form part of the government’s commitment to prevent all avoidable plastic waste by the end of 2042. Photograph: Giovanni Cancemi/Getty Images The plans form part of the government’s commitment to prevent all avoidable plastic waste by the end of 2042. Photograph: Giovanni Cancemi/Getty Images

DEFRA said it would run a consultation in the autumn and that its proposals would lead to businesses using more sustainable alternatives and prevent plastic litter from “polluting our landscapes”.

The department said the plans would form part of the government’s commitment to prevent all avoidable plastic waste by the end of 2042.

It follows on from the introduction last year of restrictions on the supply of single-use plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds.  

However, at the time, critics said the ban would merely increase the use of single-use products made from other materials.

DEFRA said industry was taking action to tackle plastic waste, through initiatives such as voluntary the UK Plastics Pact, a collaboration between businesses from across the entire plastics value chain, supported by the government and coordinated by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).  

Members of the pact aim to eliminate problematic plastics by reducing the total amount of packaging on supermarket shelves, stimulating innovation and new business models and helping build a stronger recycling system in the UK. 

However, there is a big shortfall in the UK’s domestic recycling capacity meaning that much of the plastic waste generated by supermarkets are shipped abroad for recycling. 

ENDS has revealed serious concerns about a lack of transparency on how much of this plastic is actually recycled and where it finally ends up.

Environment secretary George Eustice said: “We have made progress to turn the tide on plastic, banning the supply of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds, while our carrier bag charge has cut sales by 95% in the main supermarkets.

“Now we are looking to go a step further as we build back greener. These plans will help us stamp out the unnecessary use of plastics that wreak havoc with our natural environment.”

Friends of the Earth said further consultation on plastics is “no bad thing” but that a “product-by-product approach won’t fix the plastic pollution crisis at the speed we need”.

DEFRA says further details of the consultation, including the full list of single-use items under review, will be announced in the upcoming weeks.

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