What is the new ban on Single-Use Plastics?

In this article, I look at the new England-wide Single-Use plastic ban that will affect items like this plastic plate, bowl and cutlery..

So let’s unpack what this new plastic ban means to businesses and consumers alike.

Why is the ban on single-use plastics?
There is a growing recognition by Governments, industry and consumers, that plastic waste, specifically single-use items, such as plastic bags and plastic items, such as plastic plates, are wasteful on the resources that are required to manufacture them and can become an environmental nightmare to prevent. Indeed, World Environment Day in 2023 and previously in 2018 campaigned on the theme of “beat plastic pollution to under-line plastic pollution as a global issue.

What is the legislation & when does the ban start?
The new ban in England in implemented under The Environmental Protection (Plastic Plates etc. and Polystyrene Containers etc.) (England) Regulations 2023 and starts on 1 October 2023.

However, Scotland already has a similar ban implemented through The Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products) (Scotland) Regulations 2021, which started on 1 June 2022

Whilst, the ban for Wales through The Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products) (Wales) Act 2023, where sections 3, 4, 17, 21, 22 and 23 will come into force on the day after the day on which this Act receives Royal Assent & the other provisions of this Act come into force on a day appointed by the Welsh Ministers in an order made by statutory instrument.

Who does it affect?
It affects businesses, such as fast food outlets, like McDonalds, Fish and Chip shops, Chinese takeaways and the like.

It affects consumers as their take-away food will, now, be packaged according to the Regulations. So there will be a greater use of cardboard packaging, such as this food wrapper rather than these food trays.

What plastic items are covered?
The ban will also include single-use plastic plates, trays, bowls, balloon sticks, expanded and extruded polystyrene food and drinks containers, including cups.

The ban will apply to takeaway food and will replace single-use plastic items with biodegradable ones.

So, the ban includes:

  • online and over-the-counter sales and supply
  • items from new and existing stock
  • all types of single-use plastic, including biodegradable, compostable and recycled
  • items wholly or partly made from plastic, including coating or lining

Plates, bowls and trays
From 1 October you must not supply single-use plastic plates, trays and bowls to members of the public.

You can still supply single-use plastic plates, bowls and trays if either of the following apply:

you are supplying them to another business
the items are packaging (pre-filled or filled at the point of sale)
Examples of this type of packaging include:

a pre-filled salad bowl or ready meal packaged in a tray
a plate filled at the counter of a takeaway
a tray used to deliver food

Cutlery and balloon sticks
From 1 October you must not supply single-use plastic cutlery or balloon sticks.

There are no exemptions to this ban.

Polystyrene food and drink containers
From 1 October you must not supply ready-to-consume food and drink in polystyrene containers. This includes in polystyrene cups.

Polystyrene means expanded and extruded polystyrene.

You can still supply food or drink in polystyrene containers if it needs further preparation before it is consumed. For example, further preparation could mean:

adding water

Who will inspect?
Local authorities will carry out inspections to make sure the rules are being followed.
Inspectors can visit a shop or store, make test purchases, speak to staff and ask to see records
If you break the law, inspectors can order your business to cover the cost of the investigation.
Complaints about a business breaking the law can be made to Trading Standards.

Is the plastic ban enough?
There are criticism of the ban of single-use plastics items as England & Wales have been slow to implement legislation whereas Wales and Scotland has had their ban in place since 2022.

Even more telling is that plastic cutlery litter ranks at 15th and only accounts for 0.4 per cent of all items littered, and it’s even less by volume (0.1 per cent), whereas plastic bottles are the biggest offender by volume. Small plastic bottles for non-alcoholic beverages account for almost a quarter of all litter.

And, finally, banning these plastic items does nothing to challenge our “throwaway” society and still will lead to the over-consumption of valuable resources and the massive generation of non-plastic waste.

I am sure that the ban on single-use plastic will have a significant impact on plastic pollution, which after-all is the theme of the World Environment Day in 2023 and is a concern for many countries across the world. However, we will need to address our “throwaway” culture will be with us for some time.

For now, the single-use plastic ban will alter our behaviour by removing the option of choice between plastic and other types of plates and cutlery, for example.

If this article has helped to advance your understanding of the Single-USe Plastic ban, please leave a comment in the box below, if this article has help you.

If you enjoyed this article, you should check out our YouTube Channel – EMSmastery, where you can watch our videos, such as our video accompanying this article on Revealed: Why the UK Banned Single-Use Plastic – What is means for you? and subscribe in our YouTube channel for new videos released each week.

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