Estimates cited by the Government estimate that England uses 2.7 billion items of single use cutlery, which if lined up they would go around the world over eight and a half times! They also estimate England uses 721 million single use plates per annum with only 10% being recycled. To look at this per person, on average each uses 18 single use plastic plates and 37 single use plastic items of cutlery each year. Pollution from plastic has devastating impacts as it takes hundreds of years to break down and inflicts significant damage on our ecosystems. Plastic also creates significant carbon emissions from its production and disposal.
From October 2023, people won’t be able to buy plastic plates, cutlery, bowls and types of polystyrene cups and containers from any business including retailers, takeaways or the hospitality industry. This ban follows on from recent bans on microbeads and restrictions around straws, cotton buds, plastic carrier bag charging and the Plastic Packaging Tax stipulating percentages of recycled products in imported packaging.
Single use plastics that are not included are those with pre-packaged food items and are not currently within the scope of this ban but will be included in plans to extend the Producer Responsibility Scheme under the Environment Bill. This will incentivise packaging that can be recycled and is amongst other initiatives as part of the Bill along with a deposit return scheme on plastic bottles.
The ban of course is very welcomed but are we doing enough to deal with plastic waste as this move, although positive is far later than most countries? We are so reliant on plastics, and we need to do a lot more to wean ourselves off them. As individuals we can help by making lifestyle changes such as using reusable water bottles and buying fewer disposable products. As businesses we need to support these changes and make your own. Hopefully, our throw away culture will soon be behind us.