a lot of plastic cups thrown away
Green Living,  News,  Plastic pollution

UK bans single use plastic from October but is it enough?

The UK Government has decided to ban a range of polluting single-use plastics from October 2023.

The ban is intended to combat the 100 billion pieces of plastic thrown away every year, but some worry that it will skyrocket takeout prices.

How effective is a ban on single-use plastics?

Advocates say that the bans have been largely successful in limiting the targeted types of plastic products, but that a more comprehensive approach is needed. And they say England has fallen behind its peers after Brexit severed Britain from Europe.

The European Union approved a ban on single-use plastic items in 2018, which went into effect three years later. England’s neighbors, Scotland and Wales, each banned a similar list of items last year. (Northern Ireland, the fourth constituent country in Britain, has not.)

Figures suggest that every year England uses about 1.1bn single-use plates and 4.25bn pieces of such cutlery, only 10% of which are recycled after being used.

The environment, secretary Thérèse Coffey, said: “We all know the absolutely devastating impacts that plastic can have on our environment and wildlife.

The ban will make life more expensive

The British Takeaway Campaign told BBC News that businesses need more support to implement it.

Fish and chips restaurants and other takeaways will become more expensive as small companies will be forced to pass on higher costs of packaging to consumers. suggests Andrew Crook, who runs a fish and chip shop in Lancashire and is deputy chair of the British Takeaway Campaign.

“We believe in doing our bit for the environment but many small businesses are only just hanging on,” Mr Crook said.

Plastic-free packaging is more common in takeaways now, he says, but can cost 12p per item more.

Environment Secretary Therese Coffey says the ban builds on previous policy changes.

She said: “We have banned microbeads, restricted the use of straws, stirrers, and cotton buds and our carrier bag charge has successfully cut sales by over 97% in the main supermarkets.

“We all know the absolutely devastating impacts that plastic can have on our environment and wildlife.

“We have listened to the public, and these new single-use plastics bans will continue our vital work to protect the environment for future generations.”

But conservation charities want the government to go further.

“We really need to see the plastic pollution tap turned off,” says Amy Slack, head of campaigns and policy at Surfers Against Sewage.

“What we’re seeing now is essentially policies that are bailing out the bath water, and we need to see those policies implemented in a strategic coordinated approach across all of the nations within the UK.”