Over 100,000 sign petition to ban ‘most polluting’ single-use plastic items

More than 100,000 people have signed a petition that calls on the UK government to ban the items such as plastic cutlery, plates and polystyrene food packaging.

The petition with over 117,000 signatures was handed into Downing Street yesterday (10 February), ahead of the government closing its consultation on banning common single-use items this Saturday.

51,000 members of the public have participated in the consultation.

Megan Bentall, Head of Campaigns at 38 Degrees, said: “There’s no doubt about it – this is an absolutely massive show of public support for finally banning these unnecessary and polluting plastic items.

“The fact that more than 50,000 people have taken the time to participate in a detailed government consultation on this issue is the clearest demonstration yet that we are simply done with these plastic items polluting our environment.

The government has no choice but to listen. And they should respond with a quicker, more ambitious plan

“The government has no choice but to listen. And they should respond with a quicker, more ambitious plan.”

The petition was submitted jointly by plastic pollution campaigners City to Sea, campaign group 38 Degrees, and environmental NGO Greenpeace, as part of its #CutTheCutlery campaign.

The campaign calls on the government to ‘meet and exceed, in the quickest possible time frame, the EU’s own ban’, which was introduced in July as part of its Single-Use Plastics Directive.

Campaigners say the UK agreed to the ban whilst still a member of the EU but, since it left the EU, has ‘dragged its feet in delivering it at home’.

The campaigners are then calling on the government to ‘go much further’ through the target setting process of the Environment Act.

They’re calling for legally binding targets for single-use plastic reduction and reuse within the Environment Act – with the aim of a 50% reduction by 2025, and 25% of packaging to be reusable by 2025.


The UK government’s consultation, which closes this weekend, seeks views on banning single-use plastic plates, bowls, trays, cutlery, balloon sticks, and polystyrene food and drinks containers.

“These items are the first baby-steps in a long journey ahead. The public has removed any room for doubt that Defra may have had,” said Steve Hynd, City to Sea’s Policy Manager.

51,462 members of the public submitted their views into the consultation via 38 Degrees and City to Sea, with support for the ban peaking at 98.3% for polystyrene food containers, it says. 94% of respondents also said there should be ‘no exemptions’.

87% of respondents also disagreed with government plans to continue allowing plastic plates that are classed as ‘packaging’ – for example, where they’re filled with food at the point of sale, such as from a food truck.

Almost two thirds (64%) also said the ban should kick in sooner than the government’s April 2023 start date. 35% agreed with the proposed date and 2% said it should be later.

Two thirds (67%) of respondents said they’d be ‘very willing’ to pay more for products and services that used packaging in a ‘more sustainable way’, with a further quarter (25%) ‘slightly willing’.

61% also said that bio-based, compostable and biodegradable plastics should also be banned – something that the campaigners have dubbed ‘critical’ for tackling plastic pollution.

Material substitute caution

The wide-scale use of material substitutes such as bioplastics should be regarded with caution, the campaigners say, stating that bioplastics can be ‘harmful to the environment and won’t shift people of companies away from a culture of throwaway packaging’.

Steve Hynd, City to Sea’s Policy Manager, commented: “To address the other sources of plastic pollution we need two big policy announcements. The first, and this has to happen as part of the Environment Act target setting process, is to see a legally binding target to reduce single-use plastics as a whole by 50% by 2025.

“The second is to turbocharge the refill and reuse revolution. We are calling on the government to set a target of 25% of all packaging to be reusable or refillable by 2025.

“We have the answers to the plastic pollution crisis, the public supports them, now all we need is the political will.”

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