Single-use plastic tableware in England is almost over. London intends to ban it from October in order to protect the oceans from plastic pollution, the Ministry of the Environment and Agriculture (Defra) said on Saturday. Single-use plastic plates, cutlery, bowls and trays and certain types of polystyrene cups or packaging will also be banned, particularly from distributors, restaurants, hotels and take-away food sales.
These measures were taken following a public consultation from which there emerged strong support for the elimination of these utensils from the market. According to Defra, England uses 2.7 billion single-use cutlery per year, and only 10% is recycled. Companies that do not comply with the ban will be fined, and in the event of repeated violations, a criminal sanction could apply.
“We are inundated with plastic”
“I am proud of our efforts” to limit plastic pollution and protect the oceans, welcomed the Minister of the Environment Therese Coffey, citing the ban already implemented on “microbeads, straws, stirrers and cotton balls- plastic rods. She added that charging for plastic bags has caused their sales to drop by 97% in major supermarkets.
However, the ban will not apply to plates, trays and bowls used as packaging in “self-service pre-packaged meals and foods”. The government is studying the possibility of new measures targeting wipes, coffee filters and sachets. Environmental NGO Greenpeace welcomed the ban on “certain plastic items” but said “we are inundated with plastic and this decision is like picking up a mop instead of turning off the tap”.
In a press release, the NGO adds that “we need the government to adopt a significant strategy for the reduction of plastics with objectives and systems for the reuse” of containers. “It’s time to stop playing the game of lobbyists, promoting false solutions, and dumping our plastic waste in countries that are least involved in the climate crisis,” she insists. Single-use plastic dishware has already been banned in the EU since July 2021.