A ban on single use plastics is coming – Are you ready?

A ban on single use plastics is due to come into force from October 2023. Following on from bans such as the 2018 ban on microbeads and the 2020 ban on single use plastic straws, this draft legislation under the title “The Environmental Protection (Plastic Plates etc. and Polystyrene Containers etc.) (England) Regulations 2023” aims to continue to minimise environmental plastic pollution.

This ban comes as a follow up from a consultation that ran through from November 2021 to February 2022 with 95% of the responses in favour of the ban. The summary of responses has been published and can be viewed here.

The ban will make it an offense to supply the following:

  • Single use plastic cutlery.
  • Single use plastic plates.
  • Single use plastic balloon sticks.
  • Single use foamed, extruded polystyrene food containers.
  • Single use foamed, extruded polystyrene drinks containers, including cups.
  • Single use plastic is defined in the draft legislation as “made wholly or partly from plastic not designed or intended to be reused”.

The current state of the legislation clarifies that this legislation only applies to food and drinks containers, or packaging of items intended for immediate consumption without further preparations. It does not apply to items such as meat packaging or pre-packaged shelf ready items.

The ban is also likely to include packaging made from recycled or biodegradable plastics if they fall under the “single use” definitions.

People or businesses caught supplying these items after the ban has come into force will face a fine. Failure to comply with a compliance notice could result in criminal proceedings being initiated.

The aim of the ban is to try and encourage businesses to develop more sustainable alternatives and to try and reach the goal of eliminating all avoidable plastic waste by 2042.

A copy of the draft legislation can be found here