The single-use plastic ban includes tableware, balloon sticks, and certain types of polystyrene cups and food containers and will come into effect in October to allow businesses to prepare, the Environment Secretary announced on Saturday. 

A ‘far-reaching’ single-use plastic ban is set to be introduced in England this October, the Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey announced on Saturday. 

The ban, proposed in August 2021, will affect single-use plastic tableware, including plates, trays, bowls, cutlery, balloon sticks, and certain types of polystyrene cups and food containers. However, it will not apply to plates, trays, and bowls used as packaging in shelf-ready pre-packaged food items. Products such as straws, stirrers, and cotton bans, were already banned in the country.

Similar single-use plastic bans are already in place in Scotland and Wales. The European Union, which has already banned most single-use plastic items from the market, recently unveiled new rules to cut packaging waste and a plan to expand deposit return systems for plastic bottles and cans. 10 European countries have so far implemented deposit refund schemes, with return rates ranging between 82% in Estonia and 97% to 98.4% in Norway and Germany.

You might also like: 8 Shocking Plastic Pollution Statistics to Know About

Plastic has become ubiquitous in our daily lives thanks to its convenience and low prices. But it comes with a cost. Our mistreatment and mismanagement of the material have made it one of the biggest environmental problems of our lifetime. Our reckless plastic use and consumption have driven the world to generate approximately 300 million tonnes of plastic waste each year to keep up with demand, 60% of which ends up in our natural environment or landfills. Of these, more than 8 million tonnes end up in ocean waters and if this trend continues, scientists warn that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean as soon as 2030.

According to government figures, England uses 2.7 billion single-use cutlery, mostly made of plastic, and about 721 million single-use plates per year, only 10% of which are recycled. 

“We all know the absolutely devastating impacts that plastic can have on our environment and wildlife’” said Coffey in a statement following the announcement. “We have listened to the public and these new single-use plastics bans will continue our vital work to protect the environment for future generations.”

A government poll found that over 95% of those surveyed were in favour of the single-use plastic ban.

Richard Swannell, CEO of UK-based, climate action NGO WRAP, said he is “in full support of this announcement by Defra, which marks important progress in the wholesale removal of problematic and unnecessary plastics that can end up as plastic pollution.” 

“We’re delighted to see these efforts being backed up by regulation, which will accelerate efforts to keep plastic out of the environment.”

You might also like: Solution for Plastic Pollution: 6 Policies and Innovations Tackling Plastics