(CMR) The British Government is set to announce a ban on some single-use plastic products in the UK this weekend. While the ban will not include overseas territories, it could motivate OTs to follow suit.
Last year the PACT Government announced that it would ban single-use plastic. Several local groups have also been calling for this ban to be implemented.
The ban in the UK will cover plastic plates, trays, bowls, cutlery, balloon sticks, and certain kinds of polystyrene cups and food containers,
“A plastic fork can take 200 years to decompose — that is two centuries in landfill or polluting our oceans. 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,” Environment Secretary Therese Coffey told The Mail.
In 2020, England banned single-use plastic straws, stirrers, and plastic-stemmed cotton buds.
This new ban applies specifically to plastic packaging of food and drinks from restaurants and cafes, not in supermarkets and stores. The Government plans to address those in a separate scheme that would have manufacturers cover disposal costs starting in 2024, NPR reported.
This ban is welcomed by environmentalists who have long campaigned for this kind of ban in England. According to NPR, Scotland's took effect last summer, and Wales approved one in December; however, the British Government had been soliciting public input on potential plastic bans for some time.
Environmental advocates say England's ban is an important step towards tackling plastic pollution, even if it's not enough on its own. According to national statistics, England uses approximately 1.1 billion single-use plates and 4.3 billion single-use pieces of cutlery annually. Only 10% of that waste is recycled into new things.
Steve Hyndside, the policy manager at British nonprofit City to Sea, in an interview with radio station LBC, said that all of the items covered by this ban already have potential replacements on the market.
“What we're talking about here is, I think, a really positive vision. So as much as we all like the convenience of single-use plastic, and I think there's no point pretending that's not there … we just can't carry on going as we are,” Hyndside said.
Meanwhile, several US states and localities have banned certain plastic products, namely bags, with the federal government planning to phase out single-use plastics at national parks by 2032.