Single-use plastic items including cutlery, plates and polystyrene cups are set to be banned in England by the end of this year.
Environment Secretary Therese Coffey is to announce the move which aims to cut down on single-use items that end up in rivers and seas and harm wildlife. She told the Mail on Sunday it would have a “huge impact”.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it comes in response to a public consultation on a plan to ban the supply of single-use plastic items and polystyrene food and drink containers, which ran from November 2021 to February 2022.
Plastic plates, bowls and trays that are used as packaging for takeaway food and drink in supermarkets and shops will not be covered by the ban, but it is set to include packaging for food and drink that is eaten at a restaurant, cafe or takeaway, according to the Mail on Sunday.
Takeaway packaging is covered by a separate scheme which will make manufacturers contribute to the cost of disposing of their plastic packaging.
‘I am determined to drive forward action’
Coffey told the Mail on Sunday the move would have a “huge impact”, but said the government knows “there is more to do” and it has “listened to the public’s calls.”
She said: “This new ban will have a huge impact to stop the pollution of billions of pieces of plastic and help to protect the natural environment for future generations. A plastic fork can take 200 years to decompose – that is two centuries in landfill or polluting our oceans.
“I am determined to drive forward action to tackle this issue head on.”
The UK government banned single-use plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds in England in 2020.
‘We need a meaningful plastic reduction strategy’
It is estimated that each person uses 18 single-use plastic plates and 37 single-use plastic items of cutlery each year in England, according to Defra.
The durability of plastic means litter from items used for a few minutes can last for centuries in landfill or as litter in the countryside or ocean.
Megan Randles, from Greenpeace UK, said: “Whilst it’s welcome that the government’s finally banned certain items, we’re dealing with a plastic flood, and this is like reaching for a mop instead of turning off the tap.
“We need the government to deliver a meaningful plastic reduction strategy, which means bringing in plastic reduction targets and a proper reuse and refill scheme.
“It’s time to stop pandering to industry lobbyists; stop promoting false solutions; and stop dumping our plastic waste in countries that have done the least to cause the climate crisis. Anything else is not global leadership on plastic.”