England will ban businesses from selling and offering a range of single-use plastics, including plates and cutlery, by the end of the year, UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced on Saturday. The government will start implementing the legislation in October 2023. In addition to some plastics, the ban will cover single-use trays and certain types of polystyrene cups and food containers, but will exclude plates, trays and bowls included in supermarket ready meals; the government intends to target them through a separate plan that incentivizes manufacturers to meet higher recycling standards.
According to one estimate cited by the Department for the Environment, English consumers use around 2.7 billion disposable cutlery each year and only around 10 per cent of these are recycled. The department said 95 percent of people it consulted before today’s announcement were in favor of the ban. “We have listened to the public and these new bans on single-use plastics will continue our vital work to protect the environment for future generations,” said Environment Minister Therese Coffey.
According to AFP, Scotland and Wales have previously passed similar legislation. It’s also worth noting that England already restricts the sale of other single-use items, including straws and cotton swabs. The environment ministry is also considering measures to target other “problem plastic items”. Specifically, the government could also ban wet wipes and tobacco filters or mandate package labeling designed to show consumers how to dispose of these items properly.
The ban on single-use plates and cutlery is part of a larger push by governments around the world to limit the production and use of single-use plastics. Last March, the United Nations began work on the world’s first treaty on plastic pollution. Although the agreement will not be completed until 2024 at the earliest, it could be among the most significant efforts to limit climate change since the 2015 Paris Agreement.
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