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UK set to eliminate all single-use, disposable plastics

Produce Business wire report

Britain’s Environment Secretary, Therese Coffey, is set to announce that disposable plastics such as plates, trays, cups and cutlery will be banned by the end of the year in order to protect wildlife and future generations in England.

The new ban will be set in place in October 2023, starting with restaurants, cafes and takeaways which will be prohibited from distributing single-use plastic plates, bowls, cups, trays and cutlery. 

A separate plan would come into effect in 2024 expanding to supermarkets prohibiting them from selling any of these single-use plastic products.

“I am determined to drive forward action to tackle this issue head on. 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,” said Secretary Coffey. 

Plastic pollution is devastating to wildlife. Recently, a group of scientists found that 100% of animals washed up on British coasts have plastic in their stomachs. Cutlery is one of the main plastic items which kill 1 million seabirds and 100,000 sea mammals, turtles and fish per year. 

Currently, only 10% of the estimated 11 billion plastic plates and 4.25 billion pieces of cutlery that go to waste in the country get recycled. 

“Sodexo welcomes the move by Therese Coffey to implement the ban on the use of single-use plastics (SUP) later this year,” said Claire Atkins Morris, Director of Corporate Responsibility at Sodexo UK and Ireland. “The environmental challenges these present are significant, and businesses should already be implementing proactive strategies and taking practical steps to minimise their usage of SUPs. We hope this ban is just the beginning and that the government will implement a comprehensive plastic reduction strategy with meaningful goals in the future.”

Opening the debate

Even though campaigners have welcomed the ban, they are demanding further action by the government to address plastic use. 

Sian Sutherland, Co-founder and CEO of A Plastic Planet said: “For far too long we have accepted needless use of plastic, an incredible but toxic material that has powered our throwaway consumerism, directly driving the climate crisis.” 

Regarding the alternative of wooden cutlery, she said, “..we need to question why any material should be taken from nature, used once and discarded as trash. A comprehensive rethink on how we use natural resource materials is urgently needed.”

The executive criticized local authorities claiming that these measures come a bit too late compared to other countries in the region. 

Scotland had already banned these products since summer of 2022, and Wales as well in December. 

“The UK is following Europe’s lead,” said Sutherland. “Yet again countries like France have acted much faster with wider impact.  The environmental ‘to do list’ on Rishi Sunak’s desk lengthens every day. Protecting our environment, weaning ourselves off fossil fuels of all kinds – including plastic – is not high on his list and we are already witnessing the results of our inaction.” 

“It’s time for the UK to get a grip on what really matters – a safe and habitable planet for mankind,” she concluded.

In 2020 England had already banned single-use plastic stirrers, straws and stemmed- cotton buds.

Sodexo is one of the companies doing its part to help.

“As a global business that serves millions of meals every day, we understand the role we play in the global efforts to reduce the use of plastics in our daily lives,” said Atkins Morris. “As part of our social impact pledge, we made a commitment to move to 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025. We have made great progress, and in the last fiscal year (FY22), 11.8 million items of single-use plastics were eliminated from our operations in the UK and Ireland. The majority of these items were replaced with fibre-based packaging in accordance with our European Foodservice Disposables Strategy. In fiscal year 2022, cutlery made up 19% of our total foodservice packaging volume, with takeaway food containers contributing 6% and plates 3%.”



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