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UK is set to ban single-use plastic cutlery and plates: What this would entail

The UK government is all set to ban single-use plastic items like cutlery, plates and polystyrene trays to combat plastic waste pollution. The ban will be imposed on items including plastic plates, trays, bowls, cutlery, balloon sticks and certain kinds of polystyrene cups and food containers.

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The ban, at present, will not be applicable to plastic items found in supermarkets or shops. The government plans to address this separately.

Environment Secretary Therese Coffey while confirming the decision, said, “This new ban will have a huge impact to stop the pollution of billions of pieces of plastics and help to protect the natural environment for future generations,” BBC reported.

“We’ve already taken major steps in recent years – but we know there is more to do, and we have again listened to the public’s calls,” she added.

Coffey is expected to announce plans to outset the plastic items and replace them with biodegradable options in the coming weeks.

Some single-use plastic items like straws, stirrers and cotton buds are already banned in the UK since 2020. The new ban is significantly applicable to plastic packaging of takeaway food and drinks from restaurants and cafes.

Single-use plastics are typically items that are discarded after being used only once and do not go through the recycling process.

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As per the UK government figures, over 4 billion items of cutlery and over 1 billion single-use plates are disposed of every year in England.

An individual in England uses an average of 18 single-use plastic plates and 37 plastic cutlery items every year, according to Defra. Only 10% of those are recycled and the rest end up in landfill or as litter, BBC reported.

The Scotland and Wales governments have already banned many single-use food and drink plastic items. In June 2022, Scotland introduced a ban on businesses using a range of single-use plastics while Wales approved a similar ban in December and will come into force later in 2023.

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