Government to ban single-use plastics

Bans on a range of single-use plastics from 1 October 2023 for items including cutlery have been published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The restrictions will outlaw the supply and selling online and over the counter of single-use plastic plates, bowls, trays, containers, cutlery and balloon sticks. And, the items cannot be offered to the public, such as in a restaurant.

Defra explained that the ban on these items will include:

  • online and over-the-counter sales and supply
  • items from new and existing stock
  • all types of single-use plastic, including biodegradable, compostable and recycled
  • items wholly or partly made from plastic, including coating or lining

‘Single use’ is defined by the department as meaning that the item is meant to be used only once for its original purpose.

Businesses are advised that they can prepare for the new rules by:

  • using up existing stock before 1 October
  • finding re-usable alternatives to single-use items
  • using different materials for single-use items

Supplying banned single-use plastics after 1 October means a business could be fined although there are some exemptions as listed below. Similar legislation will come into force in Wales under The Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products) (Wales) Bill. Wales is also to ban single use plastic carrier bags in 2024.

Scotland already has a ban on a broadly similar level to England and Wales.

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