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plastic waste

England to ban single-use plastic cutlery and plates two years after EU

Ireland, along with other EU members, introduced a similar move in 2021.

SINGLE-USE CUTLERY and plates are set to be banned in England before the end of the year in an effort to reduce plastic pollution.

As the threat of plastic waste to the environment grows, as well as the enormous resources required to continually produce plastic items that are discarded after one use, pressure is mounting on governments to take action to cut down on the items in their countries.

The ban in England will include packaging for food and drink eaten in restaurants, cafés or takeaways and comes two years after a similar move by the European Union in 2021.

It will not include plastic plates, bowls and trays that are used as packaging for takeaway food and drink in supermarkets and shops as these are covered by a separate scheme which will make manufacturers contribute to the cost of disposing of their plastic packaging.

The step follows a consultation on the issue by the country’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs that ran from November 2021 to February 2022. 

The department estimates that every person in England uses 18 single-use plastic plates and 37 single-use plastic items of cutlery each year.

In the European Union, a Single-Use Plastics Directive in 2021 banned products such as straws, cutlery and cotton buds from being placed on EU markets, including in Ireland.

The ban was agreed upon in 2019 and member states were given two years to transpose the legislation into national law.

The legislation covers:

  • Cotton bud sticks,
  • Cutlery,
  • Plates,
  • Stirrers,
  • Chopsticks,
  • Straws,
  • Expanded polystyrene single-use food and beverage containers,
  • and all oxo-degradable plastic products.

In addition to the rules that came into effect in 2021, further requirements included that producers of packaging of certain single-use plastics would be required to cover the costs of litter clean up from 5 January 2023. 

From January 2025, drink producers will need to have at a minimum of 25% recycled plastic in their single-use plastic bottles. 

In Northern Ireland, SDLP Climate Change spokesperson Mark H Durkan has called for a similar move.

In a statement, Durkan said that “we cannot continue to stand still when it comes to the important issue of banning single-use plastics”.

“Every other part of these islands is making significant progress on this issue and it’s time that we took action to progress a ban, particularly given the commitment to end plastic pollution contained in the New Decade, New Approach agreement.”

He said banning single-use plastics would be “another important measure that will stop these unnecessary items being sent to landfills where they can take hundreds of years to decompose”.

“The deadlock and division that dominates our politics has repeatedly hampered our efforts to take robust action to combat climate change, with legislation only introduced at the end of the last mandate.

“It has taken us far too long to get serious about climate action here and interventions like a single-use plastics ban will be key if we’re to tackle this issue going forward and protect our planet for future generations.”

Additional reporting by Jane Moore and Press Association

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