The United Kingdom is hoping to end a toxic relationship with single-use plastic. The government says it will impose a limited ban on these items, starting on October 1. The regulations are designed to reduce the amount of cutlery and packaging that’s used only once before it’s discarded.
The ban applies specifically to England, with other parts of the UK adopting their own rules and timeframes.
The British public has had a long-running love affair with plastic. Government figures show that the UK uses nearly three billion pieces of single-use cutlery, and more than half-a-billion plastic plates, every year.
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow announced the ban in January, saying it was a crucial step in the right direction. “Plastic is a scourge,” said Pow. “I am determined that we shift away from a single-use culture.”
The new rules ban plastic cutlery completely, but the public isn’t ‘breaking up’ with single-use containers just yet. Plates, bowls and trays will still be allowed in some cases. For example:
- a pre-packed salad
- a ready-to-eat meal
- takeaway orders (in-store and deliveries)
The UK government has also banned containers made of polystyrene, a material that takes decades to decompose. But again, there are exceptions. Shops can still package food and drink in polystyrene if it needs more preparation, like heating in a microwave. It’s also allowed if consumers need to add water to the product.
The new laws are part of a global push to reduce plastic pollution. The UK was one of nearly 180 countries that reached a landmark deal at a summit in Kenya last year. These states are aiming to release a legally-binding document that will force governments to tackle the crisis.
Meanwhile, the global romance with plastic is taking its toll. The United Nations says 11 million tons of plastic waste ends up in the ocean every year. It’s warning that the figure could triple in the next two decades unless states take urgent action.
Source: Europe – CGTN