England to introduce single-use plastics ban by October 2023

Earlier this month the Environment Secretary, Thérèse Coffey, announced the ban of a range of single-use plastic items in England from October 2023, allowing businesses 9 months to prepare for this change.

The government response was published on the 14th January 2023 and revealed that 95% of respondents to their initial consultation were in favour of the ban.

Single-use plastic plates, trays, bowls, cutlery, balloon sticks and certain types of polystyrene cups and food containers will be included in the ban.

It is estimated that England used 2.6 billion items of single-use cutlery and 721 million single-use plates per year with a recycling rate of just 10%.

From October, the in-scope products of the ban will not be available for purchase from any business. This includes retailers, takeaways, food vendors and any hospitality venue.

The UK has seen success with similar bans, such as the ban on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds. Previous to the 2020 ban, these items accounted for 5.7% of marine litter. Following the ban, research from the Great British Beach Clean (2021) revealed that cotton bud sticks had moved out of the UK’s top ten most littered beach items.

The ban will not include single-use items such as plates, trays and bowls that are used as packaging in shelf-ready, pre-packaged food products such as disposable salad bowls. These will be in-scope for the Extended Producer Responsibility scheme which will incentivise producers to use easy to recycle packaging.

The Minister for Environmental Quality and Resilience, Rebecca Pow MP said:

“By introducing a ban later this year we are doubling down on our commitment to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste. We will also be pressing ahead with our ambitious plans for a deposit return scheme for drinks containers and consistent recycling collections in England.”

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