Government to consult on further plastic bans 

The government is to consult on banning single use plates, cutlery and polystyrene cups in England this autumn, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced today (27 August).

The move brings England in line with the SUP Directive

Defra says this will build on the government’s plan to phase out all avoidable plastic waste by the end of 2042.

Further details of the consultation, including the full list of single-use items under review, will be announced in the upcoming weeks.

EU

The move will bring England in line with the European Union, as per its single use plastics directive (SUP).

As the EU’s SUP directive was not transposed into UK law before the end of the Brexit transitional period, the government in Westminster is not required to implement the directive’s requirements.

This has led to fears that that single use plastic laws could differ across the UK (see letsrecycle.com story).

This is because under the Northern Ireland Protocol, Northern Ireland must  by 2022 or sooner, transpose “certain articles” of the SUP Directive relating to placing single-use plastic goods on the market, however this does not extend to the rest of the UK.

In the EU, member states will have to introduce a ban expanded polystyrene food containers and cups under the directive. This has not yet been introduced  in the UK, and nor has one on single-use plastic plates and cutlery.

This consultation would look to close that gap.

“We’ve all seen the damage that plastic does to our environment.”

  • George Eustice, Environment Secretary

‘Damage’

Environment secretary George Eustice said: “We’ve all seen the damage that plastic does to our environment. It is right that we put in place measures that will tackle the plastic carelessly strewn across our parks and green spaces and washed up on beaches.

“We have made progress to turn the tide on plastic, banning the supply of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds, while our carrier bag charge has cut sales by 95% in the main supermarkets.

“Now we are looking to go a step further as we build back greener. These plans will help us stamp out the unnecessary use of plastics that wreak havoc with our natural environment.”

Cutting plastic

The government has taken several other steps to reduce the UK’s plastic consumption in recent years.

A ban on supplying plastic straws came into force in England in October 2020

This includes restricting the supply of single-use plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds.

Other efforts to cut single use plastic include the 10p charge on carrier bags, which increased from 5p following the initiatives success.

Defra will also introduce a plastic packaging tax from April 2022, set at £200 per tonne, on plastic packaging which doesn’t meet a minimum threshold of at least 30% recycled content.

This aims to encourage greater use of recycled plastic, leading to increased levels of recycling and plastic waste collection.

‘Much needed move’

Jo Morley, head of campaigns at City to Sea, said: “We welcome the news that the government are taking steps to tackle some of the most polluting single-use items. This is a much-needed move, that we as campaigners have been calling for, along with thousands of our supporters and members of the public.

“We need now to take a leading role in banning unnecessary single-use plastics to see real benefits for the nation’s and the world’s wildlife.”

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