UK Government to consult on banning ‘polluting’ plastics

The UK Government will this autumn consult on plans to halt the supply of a range of single-use plastics that are considered polluting, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Food packaging wasteSingle-use plastic plates, cutlery and polystyrene cups are among a raft of items that could potentially be banned across England as part of the public consultation, to be launched in Autumn. The Government hopes that if the proposal is agreed upon, it will result in businesses using more sustainable alternatives and prevent plastic litter from polluting the environment.

The durability of plastic means that it has the capacity to exist for centuries in landfill or, if littered, in the UK’s countryside or oceans. Industries across the country have begun to take action to tackle this issue of plastic waste, most notably through initiatives such as the UK Plastics Pact: a collaborative effort between businesses across the plastics value chain, coordinated by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), which has identified eight polluting items it deems suitable for banning.

The UK government has previously taken similar steps in an attempt to reduce plastic waste, banning microbeads in rinse-off personal care products; introducing surcharges for plastic bags; and restricting the supply of single-use plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds. These steps all fall under the Government’s commitment to preventing all avoidable plastic waste by the end of 2042.

Additional details of the consultation, including a comprehensive list of single-use items under review, will be announced in the coming weeks.

Environment Secretary, George Eustice, commented:

“We’ve all seen the damage that plastic does to our environment. It is right that we put in place measures that will tackle the plastic carelessly strewn across our parks and green spaces and washed up on beaches.

“We have made progress to turn the tide on plastic, banning the supply of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds, while our carrier bag charge has cut sales by 95% in the main supermarkets.

“Now we are looking to go a step further as we build back greener. These plans will help us stamp out the unnecessary use of plastics that wreak havoc with our natural environment.”

Jo Morley, Head of Campaigns at City to Sea, said:

“We welcome the news that the government are taking steps to tackle some of the most polluting single-use items. This is a much-needed move, that we as campaigners have been calling for, along with thousands of our supporters and members of the public.

“We need now to take a leading role in banning unnecessary single-use plastics to see real benefits for the nation's and the world’s wildlife."

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