The UK government will consult on banning a range of single-use plastics on England this Autumn, including plates, cutlery and polystyrene cups.
Single-use plastic plates, cutlery and polystyrene cups are among a raft of items that could be banned in England as part of a new public consultation being launched in the Autumn.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) says that the proposals will lead to businesses ‘using more sustainable alternatives’ and that they will ‘prevent plastic litter from polluting our landscapes’.
It is estimated that each person uses 18 single-use plastic plates and 37 single-use plastic items of cutlery each year in England, according to the Department.
It says the durability of plastic means litter from items used for a few minutes can last for centuries in landfill or as litter in the countryside or ocean.
Industry is taking action to tackle plastic waste, such as through the UK Plastics Pact, a collaboration between businesses from across the entire plastics value chain, supported by the government and coordinated by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).
It is right that we put in place measures that will tackle the plastic carelessly strewn across our parks and green spaces and washed up on beaches.
Pact members have identified eight problematic plastic items for elimination and are investigating further items. We want to build on both the progress being made by industry and our action on plastic waste.
The UK government has already banned microbeads in rinse-off personal care products, implemented a single-use plastic bag levy in an attempt to reduce their use and has restricted the supply of single-use plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds.
The UK government says these plans will form part of the Government’s commitment to prevent all avoidable plastic waste by the end of 2042.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said: ‘We’ve all seen the damage that plastic does to our environment. It is right that we put in place measures that will tackle the plastic carelessly strewn across our parks and green spaces and washed up on beaches.
“We have made progress to turn the tide on plastic, banning the supply of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds, while our carrier bag charge has cut sales by 95% in the main supermarkets.
“Now we are looking to go a step further as we build back greener. These plans will help us stamp out the unnecessary use of plastics that wreak havoc with our natural environment.”
Jo Morley, Head of Campaigns at City to Sea, said: “We welcome the news that the government are taking steps to tackle some of the most polluting single-use items. This is a much-needed move, that we as campaigners have been calling for, along with thousands of our supporters and members of the public.
“We need now to take a leading role in banning unnecessary single-use plastics to see real benefits for the nation’s and the world’s wildlife.”
Under the Environment Bill, the UK government will:
- Introduce a Deposit Return Schemefor England for drinks containers to recycle billions more plastic bottles and stop them being landfilled, incinerated, or littered. Through a small deposit placed on drinks products, the DRS will incentivise people to recycle;
- Implement an Extended Producer Responsibilityscheme that will set out to ensure companies cover the full cost of recycling and disposing of their packaging. Producers of commonly littered packaging will be made more responsible for their littered packaging, with fees paid to cover the cost of cleaning up and for litter prevention activities; and
- Establish plans for Consistent Recycling Collectionsfor every household and business in England will ensure more plastic is recycled.
- Introduce a plastic packaging taxfrom April 2022, set at £200 per tonne, on plastic packaging which doesn’t meet a minimum threshold of at least 30% recycled content. This will set out to encourage greater use of recycled plastic, leading to increased levels of recycling and plastic waste collection, helping to tackle the problem of plastic waste and protect our environment.