Disposable cutlery and plates to be banned in the UK

Couple eating fish and chips using a plastic fork from a disposable tray.

Couple eating fish and chips using a plastic fork from a disposable tray.

The government has confirmed that single-use items such as plastic cutlery, plates and trays will be banned in the UK.

It’s unclear when the ban will come into effect, but it follows similar moves already made by Scotland and Wales.

Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said the move will help protect the environment for future generations.

Campaigners welcomed the ban, but called for a broader plastic reduction strategy.

Government figures show that 1.1 billion disposable plates and more than four billion plastic cutlery are used in the UK each year.

Plastic waste usually does not decompose and can remain in the landfill for many years.

While it can be beneficial for food hygiene, it can also end up as garbage, which can contaminate soil and water.

Approval of the move from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) came after a lengthy consultation to be published on Saturday (January 14th).

According to Defra, every person in the UK uses an average of 18 disposable plastic plates and 37 plastic cutlery each year, of which only 10% are recycled.

Ms. Coffey is preparing to ban a number of single-use plastic products, mostly related to packaged food and drink.

“I am determined to take action to address this issue directly. We have already made great strides in recent years – but we know there is more to be done and once again we have heeded the public’s call,” he said.

“This new ban will have a huge impact on stopping the contamination of billions of pieces of plastic and helping protect the natural environment for future generations.”

Similar bans were already in place in Scotland and Wales, while disposable plastic straws, stirrers and cotton swabs were already banned in the UK in 2020.

But this last measure does not cover products found in supermarkets or stores. The government said it would appeal to them in other ways.

Megan Randles, a political campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said the organization welcomed the ban but said more action needed to be taken.

“We’re dealing with a flood of plastic, and it’s like reaching for the mop instead of turning off the faucet,” he said.

He urged the government to present a “meaningful” strategy that will include solid targets on how to reduce plastic use and an “appropriate reuse and refill plan”.

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