A ban on single-use plastic in England
The Government has announced a ban on a wide range of plastic items that will come into effect from 1 October 2023. It means that from that date, businesses across England will not be able to buy or sell certain single-use plastic items.
The ban includes all single use plastic cutlery, trays, plates, bowls, and balloon sticks, as well as certain types of polystyrene cups and food containers.
From October, people won’t be able to buy these products from any business – this includes retailers, takeaways, food vendors and the hospitality industry. The ban will apply to online and over the counter sales.
The ban includes the supply of items by businesses from new and existing stock and will cover all types of single-use plastic – including biodegradable, compostable, recycled and items wholly or partly made from plastic, including coating or lining.
You can read more about this change and exemptions to it in guidance published on the website of The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
Why these plastic items are being banned
It is estimated that England uses 2.7 billion items of single-use cutlery each year, and 721 million single-use plates. Only 10% of these items are recycled.
Certain plastic items – such as straws, stirrers and cotton buds – have already been banned.
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 of.
It is expected that banning these items will have a significant impact on reducing plastic waste and littering in England. Plastic cutlery, for instance, was in the top 15 most littered items in the country in 2020.
This move follows an in-depth Government consultation, which saw over 95% of respondents in favour of the bans.
How your business can prepare
- Use up existing stock and find alternatives to single-use items. Examples include reusable plates, bowls and cutlery, or sourcing alternative single-use items such as wood-based cutlery and paper-based plates.
- Swap plastic for bamboo or wooden cutlery for takeaway food.
- Swap plastic for metal cutlery for in-house guests.
- Swap sauce sachets for large, self-serve reusable pots.
- Offer to refill customers’ water bottles.
- Encourage customers to bring their own clean containers for takeaway food.
Suppliers of sustainable products for business use
There are various UK firms that supply sustainable products for the food industry at competitive prices. Here is a list of businesses which offer takeaway trays and boxes, bowls, plates, cutlery, and many other accessories.
The companies are not endorsed by Somerset Council but they could help you to shop around.
Trading Standards will be the enforcement body for the new legislation, based on the following:
- Enforcement powers come from the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008. These include compliance notice, fixed monetary penalty, stop notice, enforcement notice.
- The legislation for Single-Use Plastics (straws, stirrers, and cotton buds) has been updated to provide for fixed penalty notices.