UK –The British government has confirmed plans to enforce a ban on single-use plastics in England, including cutlery, plates, and polystyrene cups.

The ban’s expansion, confirmed by British environment secretary Thérèse Coffey, follows a consultation on the issue by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) that ran from November 2021 to February 2022.

According to Coffey, the move aims to cut down on ­single-use items that end up in rivers and seas and harm wildlife.

“A plastic fork can take 200 years to decompose, that is two centuries in landfill or polluting our oceans,” said Coffey.

“I am determined to drive forward action to tackle this issue head-on. We have already taken major steps in recent years – but we know there is more to do, and we have again listened to the public’s calls.”

This new ban will have a huge impact to stop the pollution of billions of pieces of plastic and help to protect the natural environment for future generations.

Thérèse Coffey, British environment secretary


Similar bans have already been made in Scotland and Wales, while the UK government banned single-use plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds in England in 2020.

However, it appears the new move is not comprehensive. According to the Daily Mail, the ban will cover plastic plates, bowls and trays used for food and drink eaten at a restaurant, cafe or takeaway but not in settings such as supermarkets and shops.

According to the consultation document released in November 2021, this is because in the latter case the items would be classed as “primary packaging”, which the government says it is addressing by other means.

It is estimated that each person uses 18 single-use plastic plates and 37 single-use plastic items of cutlery each year in England, according to Defra.

The durability of plastic means litter from items used for a few minutes can last for centuries in landfill or as litter in the countryside or ocean.

The move to ban single-use plastics has previously been hailed as a welcome step by campaigners, although some have criticized the slow pace of progress and the limited scope of such a ban, while others have stressed the need to focus on reducing waste at source.

Megan Randles, a political campaigner for Greenpeace UK, welcomed the move but warned: “This is like reaching for a mop instead of turning off the tap.

“We need the government to deliver a meaningful plastic reduction strategy, which means bringing in plastic reduction targets and a proper reuse and refill scheme.”

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