Plastic Cutlery Ban Comes Into Force but Councils Warn of Enforcement Problem

A ban on single-use plastic cutlery, cups, and plates will come into force on Sunday but the Local Government Association says enforcement may be difficult.
Plastic Cutlery Ban Comes Into Force but Councils Warn of Enforcement Problem
Plastic cutlery is pictured in North Vancouver, B.C, Canada on June, 10, 2019. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)
Chris Summers
9/29/2023
Updated:
9/29/2023
0:00

A ban on plastic cutlery, plates, and polystyrene cups comes into force on Sunday but councils have warned they may have difficulty enforcing it.

New government restrictions come into force in England on Oct. 1 but the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned about the ignorance of many business owners and individuals and said councils will struggle to enforce the ban.

The LGA said trading standards teams were already stretched because of staff shortages, budget cuts, and high workloads.

Councils in England have been trying to warn cafes, takeaway outlets, retailers, and care homes but the LGA said the government needs to introduce new extended producer responsibility to incentivise producers and companies to reduce waste and increase recyclable packaging.

The bans applies to single-use plastic cutlery, balloon sticks, and expanded and foamed extruded polystyrene cups and food containers.

Single-use plastic plates, bowls, and trays are also restricted.

Supporters of the ban say enormous amounts of plastic ends up in the oceans and is being consumed by fish and other sea creatures, often with fatal consequences.
A container is filled with plastic waste from Australia, in Port Klang, Malaysia, on May 28, 2019. (Vincent Thian/AP Photo )
A container is filled with plastic waste from Australia, in Port Klang, Malaysia, on May 28, 2019. (Vincent Thian/AP Photo )

Darren Rodwell, environment spokesman for the LGA, said, “Councils are sure that businesses want to comply with these new regulations and keep plastic waste to a minimum.”

“However, we are concerned that some local businesses and consumers are not aware of the impending ban on these materials and would encourage everyone to take a look at the materials impacted by it,” he added.

Call for ‘Extended Producer Responsibility’

Mr. Rodwell said: “This is a valuable policy to reduce waste but there is still more to do. We are keen the government introduces extended producer responsibility to incentivise producers to reduce waste and increase recyclable packaging, as well as enable councils to work with communities to improve recycling.”

Environment Secretary Therese Coffey announced the ban in January, as part of the government’s efforts to reduce the amount of non-recyclable material that ends up going to landfill or being incinerated.

Environment minister Rebecca Pow said: “This new ban is the next big step in our mission to crack down on harmful plastic waste. It will protect the environment and help to cut litter, stopping plastic pollution dirtying our streets and threatening our wildlife.”

“This builds on world-leading bans on straws, stirrers, and cotton buds, our single-use carrier bag charge and our plastic packaging tax, helping us on our journey to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by 2042,” added Ms. Pow.

Canada introduced a ban on all single-use plastic in December 2022.
The Australian states of Queensland, Western Australia, and South Australia also approved such a ban earlier this month.
In July an international study, published in Nature, found plastic debris was being ingested by seabirds in a number of oceans but was worst in the Mediterranean and Black Sea.

Lizzie Pearmain, from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Zoology and the British Antarctic Survey, said, “Ocean currents cause big swirling collections of plastic rubbish to accumulate far from land, way out of sight and beyond the jurisdiction of any one country.”

“We found that many species of petrel spend considerable amounts of time feeding around these mid-ocean gyres, which puts them at high risk of ingesting plastic debris,” she added.

Last month a ship called The Ocean Cleanup recovered 55 tonnes of plastic from the Pacific Ocean and the South Korean car manufacturer Kia said it planned to recycle the haul and use it in its latest electric vehicles.

Charles Ryu, senior vice-president of Kia, said, “The record catch of plastic brought to shore by The Ocean Cleanup is tangible proof of how technology can deliver sustainable solutions at scale.”

PA Media contributed to this report.
Chris Summers is a UK-based journalist covering a wide range of national stories, with a particular interest in crime, policing and the law.
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