Disposable cutlery and plates will be banned in England

Couple eating fish and chips using a plastic fork from a disposable tray.

Couple eating fish and chips using a plastic fork from a disposable tray.

Single-use items such as plastic cutlery, plates and trays will be banned in England, the government has confirmed.

It is unclear when the ban will come into effect, but it follows similar moves already taken by Scotland and Wales.

Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey said the move would help protect the environment for future generations.

Campaigners welcomed the ban but called for a broader plastic reduction strategy.

Government figures show that 1.1 billion single-use plates and over four billion plastic cutlery are used in England each year.

Plastic waste often does not decompose and can lie in landfills for many years.

While this can be useful from a food hygiene point of view, it can also end up as garbage, contaminating soil and water.

Confirmation of the move from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) follows a lengthy consultation that will be released on Saturday, January 14.

According to Defra, each person in England uses on average 18 single-use plastic plates and 37 pieces of plastic cutlery, while only 10% of that is recycled.

Ms Coffey intends to ban a range of single-use plastic items, mainly related to takeaway food and drink.

“I am determined to accelerate action to address this issue. We have already taken major steps in recent years – but we know there is still a long way to go and we have listened to the public’s calls again,” she said.

“This new ban will have a huge impact in stopping pollution from billions of pieces of plastic and will help protect the environment for future generations.”

Similar bans have already been introduced in Scotland and Wales, while single-use plastic straws, stirrers and cotton balls have already been banned in England in 2020.

However, the latter measure does not cover items found in supermarkets or shops. The government said it would deal with them through other means.

Megan Randles, a political campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said the organization welcomed the ban but further action was needed.

She said: “We’re dealing with a plastic flood, and it’s like reaching for a mop instead of turning off a faucet.”

She called on the government to come up with a “sensible” strategy on how to reduce plastic consumption, which would also include stringent targets and a “proper reuse and refill programme”.

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