England edges towards ban on single-use plastic plates, cutlery and cups

British government launches public consultation on limiting polluting products containing plastic

The UK government has come a step closer to extending a ban on single-use plastic items to plates, cutlery and polystyrene cups in England with the launch of a public consultation.

A separate call for evidence will also investigate how to limit other polluting products such as wet wipes that contain plastic, tobacco filters and sachets.

Possible options include banning plastic in these items and mandatory labelling on packaging to help consumers dispose of them correctly.

Environment Act powers could be used to place new charges on single-use items to end the "throwaway culture" and motivate consumers to choose sustainable alternatives.

The proposals follow a ban of microbeads in personal care products, measures to reduce the number of plastic bags being used and restrictions on the supply of single-use plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds.

England uses an estimated 1.1 billion single-use plates and 4.25 billion items of single-use cutlery every year, but just 10 per cent are recycled after disposal.

"There is growing recognition of the damage that plastics cause to our environment and marine life in particular. We want to reduce the use of plastics in packaging and ban its use in items linked to littering," said UK Environment Secretary George Eustice.

Eliminating problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic is essential if we are to turn the tide on plastic pollution
Marcus Gover, Wrap

"We have already banned plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds and now plan to extend the ban to cutlery and balloon sticks where alternative materials, like wood can be used."

Marcus Gover, chief executive of sustainable resource use charity Wrap welcomed the consultation.

"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," he said.

"The UK Plastics Pact set an ambitious target to take action in this important area and its members have already eliminated problematic plastic by more than 40 per cent.

"We now need regulation to follow and ensure that all businesses take steps to eliminate problematic and unnecessary plastic."

Updated: November 20th 2021, 3:55 PM