2023 is off to a great start.
The British government is planning to ban certain single-use plastic products. This includes plastic plates, trays, bowls, cutlery, and certain types of polystyrene cups and food containers. The full announcement is expected to be made Saturday.
This move is a long-awaited step towards reducing pollution and is being led by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Many have long campaigned for this kind of ban, and it is similar to those that have been put in place in Scotland and Wales.
What exactly is banned?
Plastic packaging of food and drinks from restaurants and cafes, but not from supermarkets and stores.
The government also plans to address plastic waste from supermarkets and stores through a separate scheme where manufacturers will be required to cover the cost of disposal starting in 2024.
Some argue this ban doesn't do enough.
According to Defra statistics, each person in England uses an average of 18 single-use plastic plates and 37 items of plastic cutlery every year, and only 10% of that waste is recycled. This is dangerous for the environment and completely unnecessary as alternatives, such as cardboard boxes, wooden utensils, or even using your fingers, are available on the market.
Overall, this move is welcomed by the public.
A poll conducted by Defra shows that the majority of people who responded to a consultation period supported the ban on items such as plates and cutlery. Greenpeace UK also reported that 96% of the more than 51,000 people who self-reported their views on the consultation support the ban. This move is in line with England's 25-year environment plan established in 2018, which calls for eliminating avoidable plastic waste by 2042.