Views: 0 Author: Johnny Publish Time: 2022-12-29 Origin: Plastics News
December 14 - Single-use plastic items, including cutlery and plates, are to be banned in England as the government tries to curb the problem of waste polluting rivers and oceans.
Environment Minister Therese Coffey plans to announce the phasing out of the items and replacing them with biodegradable alternatives in the next few weeks, following similar moves by the Welsh and Scottish governments.
More than 4 billion pieces of cutlery and more than 1 billion plates involving single-use plastic are processed in England each year. Although these items can be recycled, the vast majority still end up in landfills or as waste as part of the country's throwaway culture.
In 2020, the British government banned single-use plastic straws, mixers and cotton swabs in the UK.
Last year, ministers launched a consultation to ban several other single-use items in England, including cutlery, plates and polystyrene cups. The ban has been delayed by political turmoil, according to government insiders, but now Coffey is preparing to grant it. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it was vital to reduce England's reliance on single-use plastics.
"We are determined to go further and faster to reduce, reuse and recycle more resources to transform our waste industry."
"We will shortly respond to a consultation on a further ban on plastic plates, cutlery, balloon trays and foamed and extruded polystyrene food and drink containers."
The department is considering what to do with other items involving single-use plastic, including wet wipes and tobacco filters.
Only about a tenth of the 300 million tons of plastic waste produced globally each year is recycled. Plastic can last for centuries, breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces, with devastating consequences for wildlife.
Last week, the Welsh Assembly approved legislation to ban nearly a dozen products involving single-use plastics from autumn 2023, including cutlery, plates and fast food containers. The Welsh climate minister, Julie James, told the Financial Times that there were non-plastic or reusable alternatives for all products, such as wooden cutlery.
She said the Welsh government had carried out research into the comparative cost of plastic products and their biodegradable alternatives and found the price difference was small.
"It's not expensive at all, and as people realize how harmful these products can be, more alternatives will come into use at cheaper prices," James added.
In 2011, Wales was the first UK country to introduce a 5p charge for single-use plastic bags, with Scotland and England later following suit, leading to a significant drop in use.
In June, the Scottish government banned the use of a variety of single-use plastic items, including cutlery, plates, straws and polystyrene food containers and cups. But Nina Schrank, senior plastics campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said the British government was not acting fast enough.
She added that the UK still throws away around 100 billion pieces of plastic every year. Schrank said the UK government should use its environment bill to introduce legally binding targets to halve single-use plastic by 2025 and ban the export of plastic waste.
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